EU Commission eager to protect know-how

The EU Commission has announced a consultative investigation into the protection of business-related and research-related know-how. The study follows the Commission's report on trade secrets and parasitic copying (look-alikes), and is part of a wider investigation into the protection of intellectual property rights and innovation across the EU.

The protection of valuable business information is often the only or, at least, the most effective way a business can protect its intellectual property rights before they have been registered.

Patents are examined and registered rights, but have their limitations in the early phases of Research & Development, while unregistered copyright protection is often too weak or too narrow. In the same way, the misuse of confidential information can be disastrous for a business and it is often difficult to secure legal redress without costly evidence or a long wait for trial. These factors could stifle the development of innovation and the sharing of information between EU member states.

Against this background the EU Commission is investigating how member states currently protect critical business information. Subsequent analysis will indicate whether greater harmonisation is required.