By a decree of the President on 21th March 2019, the Law For The Protection Of Trade Secret was promulgated and entered into force on 5th April 2019.
The Law regulates the conditions and procedures for protection against unauthorized acquisition, use and disclosure of trade secret, which protection is pursued in court proceedings in civil cases.
The new Law For The Protection Of Trade Secret follows EU Trade Marks Directive 2016/943, whereby trade secret was classified as an intellectual property object, ensuring the legal protection of trade secret.
The Law For The Protection Of Trade Secret defines the trade secret as “any commercial information, know-how and technological information which simultaneously meets the following requirements:
1 It represents secret in such a way that in its entirety or in its exact configuration and set of elements it is not generally known or readily accessible to persons from the environments that typically use such information;
2 Due to its private nature it has trade value;
3 Measures have been taken in place to protect its secrecy from the person who has control over the information.
The most important feature of the new Law is that it contains additional provisions to extend protection by targeting not only goods which infringe trade secrets but also services whose disclosure and characteristics constitute a trade secret offense.
The system of remedies contained in the Law For The Protection Of Trade Secret is characterized by the following features:
1 Owners of trade secrets can ask civil courts to establish the existence of an infringement, and
2 to order the cessation or prohibition of such an infringement;
3 to prohibit the production, supply, marketing or use of products that violate trade secrets or import, export or storage of such goods;
4 to prohibit the provision of services related to an offense;
and to order the destruction or transfer back to the applicant of documents or devices containing trade secrets.
The proprietor of a trade secret has the right to bring court action against any violator of trade secrets for failure to acquire, use or disclosure of trade secrets. The claims for a commercial breach violation have a 5-year limitation period, and the enforcement of the court decisions enacted in compliance with the Code of Civil Procedure.
This is the first Law on trade secrets in Bulgaria. By now, the infringement of Trade Secret was enforced to a limited extent by the Commission on unfair competition.
The LAW ON PROTECTION OF COMPETITION provided that:
Prohibition of Disclosure of Production or Trade secrets
Article 37 (1) Discovering, using or disclosing manufacturing or trade secrets that is contrary to good faith commercial practices, shall be prohibited.
(2) Using or disclosing manufacturing or trade secrets shall be prohibited, where they have been discovered or disclosed under the condition that they shall not be further used or disclosed.
The sanction which the Comission can impose is defined in art. 100:
Article 100. (1) The Commission shall impose a pecuniary sanction in an amount not exceeding 10% of the total turnover in the preceding financial year on an undertaking
The regulations concerning the trade secret violations in the Law on unfair competition are still in force.
So, an entity which / who considered that their trade secrets have been violated can address the Commission or the Court under the new Law, depending on the particularities of the case.
Further according to the Criminal code certain aspects of the violation of secrets can be considered as crime. The code provides that:
art. 280: (1) An official who, to the detriment of the state, of an enterprise, an organisation or private person, informs another or publishes information which has been entrusted or accessible to him officially and of which he knows it constitutes an official secret, shall be punished by imprisonment for up to two years or by probation.
(2) The punishment for an act under paragraph 1 shall be also imposed on a person who is not an official, who works in a state institution, enterprise or public organisation, to the knowledge of who information has come, in connection with his work, constituting an official secret.
(3) If the act under paragraph (1) has been committed by an expert witness, translator or interpreter with respect to information which has become known to him in connection with a task assigned thereto, and which such a person has been obliged to keep in secret, the punishment shall be deprivation liberty for up to two years or probation.
The team of IP consulting has a long lasting practice on the law on unfair competition including cases of violation of trade secrets. We are looking forward to explore the future development of the practice in relation to the new regime and the coordination between the different instances and authorities.