On December 5th, 2019, Crowell & Moring’s Brussels office, in cooperation with the Belgian Institute for In-House Counsel, hosted a deep dive session into the EU Trade Secrets Directive and the changes this legal framework has brought about since it went into effect in 2016.

Crowell & Moring attorneys including Partners Jan-Diederik Lindemans and Emmanuel Plasschaert, Senior Counsel Gunther Meyer, and Associates Judith Bussé and Evelien Jamaels guided participants through best practices on maximizing protection of commercially valuable information under the legal framework, explained how it impacts companies’ relationships with employees and contractors, and finally discussed how the framework will co-exist with upcoming EU rules on whistleblowing. Participants especially appreciated the insights shared by Belgian State Security Counter-Intelligence Coordinator, L. Van Der Haeghen, about commonly used techniques to steal or otherwise unlawfully obtain trade secrets during the discussion.

Below are a few key points participants took away from the discussion:

  1. It remains to be seen how the national courts will interpret certain wording of the Trade Secrets Directive
  2. The current legal framework in Europe is a step in the right direction, but the end goal is not near
  3. Internal (re)organisation and raising awareness remain indispensable and efficient ways to mitigate the risk of trade secret misappropriation
  4. Technological developments to make the management of confidential information easier might have raised the bar for what constitute ‘reasonable secrecy efforts’
  5. In an employment context confidentiality and other clauses should become more tailored and not remain generic
  6. The recently issued Whistle-blower Directive is not necessarily an issue from a trade secrets perspective, but can in fact become an opportunity for companies to be better and faster aware of unlawful practices going on inside their organisation
  7. Economic espionage is more often than not a question of discreetly gathering bits and pieces of information and connecting the dots

To learn more about our Brussels Trade Secrets practice, please contact any of the following individuals: