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The Baltic States has one of the highest trade secret litigation level – how safe is your trade secrets?

In a study done this year, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) reported that all three Baltic countries display disproportionately high trade secrets litigation levels. Here are a few findings:

  • The most litigated-over trade secret type turns out to be commercial downstream information, and the second most—manufacturing process.
  • This alligns with the fact that the sector with most litigation is by far manufacturing.
  • While there is no analysis focused on the Baltic region, the overall most filed type of case is breach of confidentiality, with use based on unauthorised aquisition not far behind.

Based on these conclusions from EUIPO, it is clear that protection of trade secrets is a relevant issue for our markets, and the Actiofarma case in Lithuania is a great example.

In this case former employees of the claimant, Actiofarma, were shown to have passed on information to their new employer in the form of current trading performance of individual products, lists of the claimant’s suppliers in exporting countries and customers in Lithuania, contact details of responsible persons, commercial terms and conditions, quantity requirements of individual products, the contact details of the companies providing transport, packaging and marketing services, their commercial terms and conditions, their technical capacities, and etc.

The Supreme Court of Lithuania ruled that customer data is to be protected as a trade secret if it contains information other than the name of the customer that is not available to the public, such as contact persons, decision makers, business practices, technical information to support operations, service and quality requirements, planned projects, and solvency.

The main take-away for businesses from that case is the assurance that the private information surrounding publicly-available information (such as which countries their products are exported to/imported from, which suppiers they work with, and at what prices) does fall under the protection applied to trade secrets.

This is great news for businesses that are already established, but new ones should make sure the information they plan to build on does not fall under this more broad definition of trade secrets. All employers should also carefully evaluate information brought to them by new hires before acting on it.