TRADE SECRETS | The Court of Catania on the protection of trade secrets

On 22 March 2024, the Court of Catania handed down its judgment No. 1512/2024 concerning two insurance companies and two former agents accused of using confidential information after the end of their mandate to cause a mass cancellation of contracts in favour of another insurance company. The claimants sought compensation for the damage suffered because of the unlawful retention and exploitation of confidential information consisting of all the personal and commercial data relating to the customers of those companies, pursuant to Articles 98 and 99 of the Italian Industrial Property Code. The Code notably provides for three conditions to be met for confidential information to obtain protection as trade secrets. It must (a) be kept confidential as a whole or in its precise combination and must not be readily available to operators in the field; (b) have economic value as confidential; (iii) be subject to reasonable measures to maintain its confidentiality. The Court found that the data about customers (including personal and commercial information) acquired by the agents may be considered as trade secrets of the insurer which collected them, if the conditions set out in the Italian Industrial Property Code are met. Therefore, after the termination of an agency contract, the agent may not attempt to divert such information in favour of other competitors.

Newsletter n. 96 – May 2024