On April 1st, 2019, the Greek Law 4605/2019 implementing the Trade Secrets Directive 2016/943 was published in the Official Gazette. This new law creates a framework for the protection of business information and know-how. Before that date, Greek law did not provide for any legal protection against the expropriation or theft of for example software source code, early stage inventions, product prices and customers’ and suppliers’ lists. Under the new Greek law, trade secrets will now enjoy comprehensive protection.
The Directive introduces a uniform definition of trade secrets, a concept that did previously not exist under Greek law, as requiring three elements:
- it is not generally known among or readily accessible to persons within the circles that normally deal with the kind of information in question;
- it has commercial value because it is secret; and
- it has been subject to reasonable steps taken by the person lawfully in control of the information to assure its secrecy.
The law establishes the conditions for the existence of an unlawful acquisition, use or disclosure of trade secrets. Any behavior contrary to honest business practices as well as unauthorized access to the protected information are considered unlawful. Furthermore, the use or disclosure of a trade secret without the owner’s consent is unlawful if the trade secret was acquired unlawfully. The use or disclosure is also unlawful if it is in breach of a confidentiality agreement or contractual obligations prohibiting the disclosure of a trade secret, as well as limiting their use.
The victim of an unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure of trade secrets, also known as the trade secret holder, can seek redress and apply for civil law remedies, including the award of damages, injunctions prohibiting the use or disclosure of the trade secret, and recall of the infringing goods.
For quite some time, Greece remained among the EU member states that had not transposed the Directive, since it missed the transposition deadline of June 9th, 2018. Although based on European case law on “direct effect,” individuals in Greece could technically rely on the Directive against the authorities of Greece in court proceedings and claim the rights granted by it, adoption of Greek Law 4605/2019 now provides a national legal framework to safeguard trade secrets against unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure and protect this increasingly valuable information in the global economy.