Easier prosecution of infringements of trade and business secrets

18 January 2024 1 min read

By Barbara Angene and Jennifer Maria Held

At a glance

  • Amendments to the Unfair Competition Act (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb, UWG) and the Austrian Criminal Code came into force in September
  • For employers, these mean easier criminal prosecution of offences relating to business and trade secrets.
  • More specifically, the criminal offences of infringement of business and trade secrets and disclosure of business and trade secrets (Sections 122, 123 Austrian Criminal Code) and the criminal offences in the law against unfair competition have been amended.
  • Previously, the aggrieved party, ie the employer, had to investigate and process the facts relevant under criminal law itself in the event of a suspected breach of business and trade secrets (eg know-how) and bring a private prosecution before the court if the case was 'ready for prosecution'. This was time-consuming and cost-intensive for those affected and often involved an outcome to the proceedings that was difficult to predict.
  • As a result of the change in the law, the aforementioned offences have been transformed into 'enabling offences' (Ermächtigungsdelikte).
  • This means that it is now the task of the criminal investigation department and the public prosecutor's office to investigate and bring charges.
  • This is very positive for employers. They are exempt from the burden of investigations and the cost risk of a private prosecution.