Competition is considered to be a guiding principle of a free economic system. However there are limits on how market participants can gain an advantage over the competition and on decisions to merge with competitors. In terms of criminal law, important provisions include corruption-related offences of taking and giving bribes in commercial practice (section 299 of the Criminal Code), the ban on restricting competition through agreements in the context of public bids (section 298) and the fines and criminal offences covered by anti-trust law.
In recent years we have also seen an increasing significance accorded to betraying trade or industrial, industrial and selling trade secrets. These legal matters, which were previously covered by the Act against unfair competition, is now regulated in § 23 of the Act on the Protection of Trade Secrets (GeschGehG), which came into force on 26 April 2019. The new legal regulation has significantly changed the concept of the legal term “secret”. Criminal law protection, for example, requires "appropriate secrecy measures" on the part of the owner under the "circumstances", while so-called "reverse engineering" is now permitted. The resulting scope for interpretation places high demands on the (preventive) advice of companies on the one hand and offers new approaches in defence on the other. We are happy to assist you with our special expertise in advising affected companies and individuals.