Austrian Supreme Court Ruling on Employers’ Trade Secrets | ZFZ Postcard Cases

Pursuant to a recently (2019) enacted Austrian law, information qualifies as a trade secret if the information (1) is secret, (2) has commercial value and (3) is subject to secrecy measures.

For the first time since, the Austrian Supreme Court assessed how substantiated an allegation of the existence of a trade secret must be, to make use of the statutory remedies under this law.

In the case at hand, the employer requested that a former employee be prohibited from using certain information, such as customer and supplier data, client lists, etc. However the employer failed to allege to what extent that information qualifies as trade secrets for the purposes of the law. The Austrian Supreme Court acknowledged that such information may, in specific cases, qualify as trade secrets. In this case, the court ruled that merely naming generic groups of information is not sufficient to enjoy protection under Austrian trade secret law.

Thus, in order to make use of trade secret protection, employers have to specifically allege that information like specific client lists, supplier data, etc. qualify as trade secrets (i.e. that they are confidential, have economic value and are subject to secrecy measures).

The full decision can be found here (in German).