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Fragrance industry welcomes EU Parliament endorsement for ’know-how’ Directive

The IFRA (International Fragrance Association) welcomes yesterday’s adoption by the EU Parliament of the Directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and confidential business information (trade secrets). [1]

Indeed, trade secret is a cornerstone of the perfumery industry where the creation of a new fragrance, whether for a luxury perfume, a shampoo or a detergent, may require months if not years and hundreds of trials. “Thousands of fragrance houses, big and small, rely on trade secrets to protect the know-how invested in the harvesting or manufacturing of raw materials, their selection and transformation into fragrant products,” said IFRA.

The trade association said the new Directive will help fragrance houses large and small protect their considerable investments in know-how and foster continued innovation in a very fast moving, competitive and successful sector, further strengthening Europe’s leading position.

To fight against unfair practices

What is particularly helpful for our sector,” said Pierre Sivac, IFRA President, “is the provision, clarified by the Parliament during the legislative process, that the Directive covers the unlawful use of information even when legally acquired. Our industry is particularly vulnerable to the misuse of information gathered legitimately by commonplace reverse engineering practices but then used in an unlawful way. This could include the launch of an identical copy or a client using the information to help a competitor create the same composition more cheaply,” he explained.

However, NGOs, trade unions, several political parties and some journalists also criticized the vote of this directive because it could be used to hinder media inquiries or increase the legal pressure on whistle-blowers, in particular on fiscal, environmental or health issues.


[1] Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure (read here)

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