While economic players have the possibility of filing patents, trademarks, designs and models, or even benefiting from copyright protection, these intellectual property rights are sometimes inadequate to protect certain information.

On the one hand, the acquisition of any intellectual property right requires  disclosure . However, disclosing allows a competitor to imitate, and this can therefore amount to the rights holder losing the competitive advantage that he had acquired through years of research and significant investments. On the other hand, some information cannot be protected by any intellectual property right ( a commercial strategy, the result of a marketing study, etc.), although it has real value.

To protect the “capacity to innovate” of economic players, France will be equipped by June 9, 2018 with legislation protecting  business secrets . After three failed French attempts to  fight against economic and industrial espionage , it was the European Union which gave the impetus for such protection in 2016, by adopting the “trade secrets” Directive . If this protection enters French law so late, it is because the very notion of trade secret is particularly difficult to define. The directive has the advantage of giving a definition which will be harmonized for all the Member States of the European Union. Information relating to business secrecy meets  three criteria.


The information is neither public nor easily accessible. Either it is a single piece of information that is secret, or it is the compilation of a series of information which is not necessarily confidential. It is then the intellectual effort of collecting and sorting information that will be protected.

For example, a company that conducts a study to establish itself in a geographical area and collects public data on the area will see the assembly of this information protected by trade secrets.


This information must then have a “commercial value”, which is the case when  one is willing to pay for access to it .


Finally, whoever controls the information must have taken  steps to keep it secret . They are varied and can be physical protection measures ( safe, use of secure computer software ) as well as contractual measures ( confidentiality clauses ).

The experts of Our will help you determine which information is a business secret