Photo of Helena Milner-Smith

Helena Milner-Smith helps clients navigate international HR-legal compliance issues. Her practice includes implementing global employment contracts, policies and codes of business conduct, managing multi-country reviews and projects, advising on the employment aspects of large-scale corporate reorganisations, handling disciplinary and grievance matters and dismissals, and negotiating settlement agreements. She has successfully defended clients in the UK employment tribunal. Ms. Milner-Smith has also gained valuable in-house experience while on secondment at three large multinational corporations, including a pharmaceutical company.

Hannah Edmonds, a trainee associate in Covington’s London office, contributed to this post.

Currently, legal  regimes governing protection of trade secrets and confidential information across the EU are fairly disparate. A study published by the European Commission in July (http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/iprenforcement/docs/20130711/final-study_en.pdf)  has identified a ‘widespread appetite for a harmonized approach’ across the region. Harmonisation of the rules could be of significant financial and practical benefit to life sciences companies.

Ensuring that sensitive information (such as customer supply lists, R & D data and process know how and technology) is legally protected from misuse by employees, consultants, competitors and other third parties is a key concern in the life sciences sector. ‘Trade secrets’ often form the bedrock of a company’s assets. 75% of the 537 EU firms who responded to the Commission’s preparatory survey (some of which were SMEs in the life science sector) indicated that trade secrets were of significant strategic importance to their company’s growth, competitiveness and innovative performance.
Continue Reading A Move to Harmonise Trade Secret Laws Across Europe?