In a bid to transpose EU Directive 2016/943 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets), the Bulgarian parliament passed the Protection of Trade Secrets Act (the ‘Act’), which sets forth the conditions and procedures in civil proceedings to protect against the unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure of trade secrets.
The Act strictly follows the EU Directive by using the same definitions for a trade secret, trade secret holder, infringer and infringing goods, thus allowing for harmonisation at the supra-national level. The new Act goes a step further by ensuring protection against not only infringing goods but also services, the characteristics, provision or marketing of which have significantly benefited from trade secrets unlawfully acquired, used or disclosed.
Regarding the civil proceedings for protection of trade secrets, the Act allows for interim injunctions, such as the temporary prevention from using a trade secret; bans on the manufacturing, supply, use, exports or imports of infringing goods; and a prohibition on the marketing and provision of infringing services. Additionally, of interest are the damages which can be awarded to compensate an injured party. To determine the compensation the court takes into consideration all damages suffered, including lost profits where the claim for lost profits includes any income received by the infringing party resulting from the misappropriation of the trade secret. Subject to compensation are also any moral damages suffered by the proprietor of a trade secret.
In Bulgaria, in the context of unfair competition, trade secrets are also governed under the Protection of Competition Act. At present, it appears that proceedings for claiming damages in court and for pleading for sanctions for unfair competition can run in parallel. The Commerce Act has also been amended and as a result procurators, commercial proxies, commercial representatives, and commercial intermediaries are now obliged to protect the trade secrets of their principals.
To gain the legal protection granted by the new law, companies are required to take reasonable steps under the circumstances to keep the confidential information secret.