Trade secret (intellectual property) [Ro.: Secret comercial, Fr.: secret commercial, De.:Geschäftsgeheimnisse] (See also: industrial secret, business information, trust secret, trade dress, copyright, patent, trademark, intellectual property) = a collection of information including manufacturing processes, sales methods, advertising strategies not generally known to the public that confers economic and competitive advantage for a company. In common law jurisdictions, trade secrets are regarded as an equitable right rather than a property right.Thus, English law takes a flexible approach to the protection of trade secrets, treating it as part of the law of equity. In some EU Member States, the misuse or disclosure of trade secrets can attract penal (criminal or civil) measures. In the United States, misappropriation of trade secrets is forbidden by the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) and the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. Also, in the United States, unlike other forms of intellectual property such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks, organizations cannot register their trade secrets with the government to protect proprietary information.


Useful links                                       

Legislation link  Law No. 11 of January 29, 1991, on the Repression of Unfair Competition, art. 1 letter d)   [Romanian], DIRECTIVE (EU) 2016/943 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 8 June 2016 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure [English]

Case law US District Court for the Northern District of New York, Sheridan v. Mallinckrodt, Inc., 1983 United States District Court, D. Colorado. RIVENDELL FOREST PRODUCTS, LTD. v. GEORGIA-PACIFIC CORPORATION and Timothy L. Cornwell, 1993 United States District Court, International Business Machines Corporation v. Papermaster, 2008

Organisations and associations WIPO-World Intellectual Property   IPO-Intellectual Property Owners Association

Online publications Bevitt, A., Timner, H.  and Westman, D., 2014, Protecting Trade Secrets Globally: Comparing The U.S. And Eu: Employment Law Commentary [English] Quinn, G., 2016, What is a Trade Secret, USA, IPWatchdog [English] Toren, P., 2016, Definition of a ‘Trade Secret’ Under the DTSA, USA, IPWatchdog [English]


Budden, M. C., 1996, Protecting trade secrets under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group

Krotoski, M. L., 2009, Common Issues and Challenges in Prosecuting Trade Secret and Economic Espionage Act Cases: USA: U.S. Attorneys' Bulletin

Dreyfuss, R., Strandburg, K., (eds), 2011, The Law and Theory of Trade Secrecy: A Handbook of Contemporary Research, USA/UK: Edward Elgar Publishing


By Ramona Bărbulescu