The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted a new Law on the Protection of Business Secrets (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 53/2021), which entered into force on June 5, 2021 (hereinafter: the “Law“). The Law harmonizes, among other things, the system of protection of business secrets with the relevant regulations of the European Union. As stated in the explanation of the Law, the new Law should deter competition from illegal acquisition, use and disclosure of business secrets.
The Law provides a clear definition of what information can be considered a business secret and what conditions must be met in order to be considered a business secret and as such be protected by law. It also regulates the conditions under which the acquisition, use and disclosure of a trade secret is considered legal, and the conditions under which it is considered illegal.
A business secret in the broadest sense is any confidential business information that has market value because it is a secret, and which provides a natural or legal person with an advantage over the competition and for which the person who possesses it takes reasonable measures to maintain secrecy.
Also, the Law specifies what is considered legal and what is illegal in obtaining, using and disclosing a business secret. Thus, obtaining a business secret is considered legal if the trade secret was obtained in one of the following ways:
One of the novelties brought by this Law is that, in addition to legal entities and responsible persons, entrepreneurs and natural persons who illegally obtain, use or disclose business secrets will be punished in them from now on. Thus, if it is an economic crime, the fines are from 50,000 to 3,000,000 dinars, and if it is a misdemeanor, the fines are from 20,000 to 500,000 dinars.
The new law also introduces an extension of the deadline for filing a lawsuit for breach of business secret – thus, a lawsuit for breach of business secret can be filed within one year from the day when the plaintiff learned of the violation and the person suspected of violating business secret ( subjective deadline), and no later than within five years from the day of the violation or from the day of the last violation if the violation is committed continuously (objective deadline). The fact that the lawsuit procedure is urgent contributes to the efficiency of the protection of business secrets.
In this way, the legislator has set all the legal grounds for the protection of business secrets, and companies are obliged to harmonize their general acts with the applicable regulations in order to exercise their rights in the best possible way in eventual court proceedings.
The Law regulates the establishment, management and administration, content, manner of use, and other issues of importance for the management of the Register of Administrative Procedures (hereinafter: the “Register”). The Register will cover all administrative procedures for citizens and business entities by January 1, 2025 at the latest. The Register provides an opportunity to obtain information on the manner of submitting the request, necessary documentation, deadlines for resolving the request, total costs, and all other necessary elements of the procedure, in a fast and clear manner. Also, the Register provides the possibility to download and electronically fill in the application form with the competent administrative body. Therefore, whether it is a matter of obtaining an excerpt from the registry book or a necessary building permit, the Register contains all the data on necessary documentation for obtaining them, which enables easier business and easier communication with the management.
In February 2021, the Commission extended the ex officio investigation proceeding to Gigatron export-import, Tehnomedia centar, Emmezeta Srbija and XLS Belgrade. The Commission, by analyzing the prices of certain consumer electronics products, established that Tesla brand products are offered at identical or almost identical prices, which the Commission already had in mind when initiating proceedings against Comtrade Distribution.
On 20 April 2021 the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources (“the Law”). The Law comes into force on 30 April 2021.