Technology- & IT-Law

Protection of trade secrets in Germany

Protection of secrets within the meaning of the German Business Secrets Protection Act: Protection of secrets within the meaning of the German Business Secrets Protection Act is an important aspect of intellectual property that helps companies in Germany to protect their confidential information and business secrets.

In the following, we will explain the meaning of the protection of secrets under the Trade Secrets Act, how it arises and what type of information can be protected.

Significance of the protection of secrets under the Business Secrets Protection Act

The aim of secrecy protection is to protect confidential information that represents an economic value to a company from unauthorized disclosure and use. In this way, companies can maintain their competitive edge by ensuring that their trade secrets do not fall into the hands of competitors or others who might exploit this information. In Germany, the Trade Secret Protection Act is based on the EU Know-How Directive.

Emergence of the protection of secrets under the Business Secrets Protection Act

The protection of secrets arises from the fulfillment of certain requirements, which are laid down in the Trade Secrets Protection Act. In essence, it is about determining what is a trade secret in the legal sense at all..

These requirements are

  • Secrecy: The information must be kept secret, i.e. it must not be generally known or easily accessible.
  • Economic value: the information must have an economic value based on its secrecy.
  • Appropriate Confidentiality Measures: The holder of the information must have taken reasonable measures to maintain the confidentiality of the information.

Property rights at a glance

We advise on all aspects of intellectual property rights, especially trade secrets, copyright, competition law and trademark law – supporting companies in the enforcement and defense of their intellectual property rights, specifically in the protection of technologies such as software.


By the UrhG own creations are protected (no ideas)

  • Protection of works
  • personal intellectual creation
  • Protection of concrete expression, but no protection against parallel creations

Trademark law

Protection of marks used to distinguish goods or services.

  • Protection of the distinctive function of signs
  • Distinction is necessary.
  • Protection against unauthorized use of the trademark


Protection of external appearance, primarily under design law, but also under competition law

  • 2D/3D shape of an object or a part of it or its decoration is protected
  • Indigeneity and novelty of the design are necessary.
  • Protection of the exclusive right of use including manufacturing and placing on the market
  • In the UWG according to §4 No.3 UWG.

Secret protection

Protecting valuable information of an operation.

  • Protection of information with value that is not generally known
  • Necessary are economic value, protective measures and legitimate interest
  • Protection against unauthorized dissemination or obtaining of the information


protecting technical innovation.

  • Protection of an invention
  • There must be both an “invention” in the legal sense but also as a novelty
  • Comprehensive protection against any use

Protectability of Information under the Business Secrets Protection Act

Not all types of information can be covered by the Trade Secrets Act. To be considered eligible for protection, the information must meet the above requirements. Examples of trade secrets worthy of protection are:

  • Technical information: This includes production processes, formulations, technical drawings and software code.
  • Business information: This includes customer lists, pricing strategies, sales strategies, and marketing plans.
  • Research and development data: This includes unpublished research results, development projects and experimental data.

Protection of secrets in Germany

The protection of secrets as defined by the Business Secrets Protection Act enables companies to protect their confidential information and business secrets from unauthorized disclosure and use. This helps to maintain competitive advantages and preserve the value of the protected information.

To qualify for this protection, the information must be secret, have an economic value and be accompanied by appropriate confidentiality measures. Examples of trade secrets worthy of protection include technical information, business information, and research and development data. The protection of secrets is an important supplement to patent protection and enables companies to safeguard their innovative strength and competitive position.

German Lawyer at Law Firm Ferner Alsdorf
I am a specialist lawyer for criminal law + specialist lawyer for IT law and dedicate myself professionally entirely to criminal defence and IT law, especially software law. Before becoming a lawyer, I was a software developer. I am an author in a renowned commentary on the German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) as well as in professional journals.

Our law firm specialises in criminal defence, white-collar crime and IT law / technology law. Note our activity in digital evidence in IT security and software law.
German Lawyer Jens Ferner (Criminal Defense & IT-Law)