Employment Law

Confidentiality and trade secrets in German Employment Law

Sometimes even I am surprised to what detail German legislation has developed. There seem to be rules for any possible scenario. For instance, the question of confidentiality and trade secrets, and how to protect the latter when an employment relationship ends, is not regulated in New Zealand or Australia at all. Which is surprising as it is a common problem and a contractual issue every employer to a certain degree wrestles with.

In Germany, however, we have got the “Act Against Unfair Competition” which prohibits unauthorized disclosure of trade secrets. There is also Section 203 German Criminal Code which imposes a penalty of up to one year imprisonment for the unlawfully disclosure of another person’s trade secret. And there is also Section 60 (1) German Commercial Code, which which provides that employees are not allowed to compete against their employer during the term of their employment relationship.

However, once an employment relationship has ended, the above statutory provisions dont apply anymore or only to a limited extent. Contractual obligations, which survive