The Law Commission has recommended new legislation for protecting trade secrets due to existing variations and inconsistencies in their application under current laws. 

Key highlights

  • The 22nd Law Commission headed by Justice (retd) Ritu Raj Awasthi recommended that new legislation be introduced to protect trade secrets with exceptions relating to whistleblower protection, compulsory licensing, government use, and public interest. 
  • Currently, India lacks specific legislation for safeguarding trade secrets, relying instead on general contract laws, common law, criminal law, and principles of breach of confidence and equity. 
  • Now, the Law Commission has published its 289th Report on ‘Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage’ along with proposing a draft Protection of Trade Secrets Bill, 2024. 
  • The Report has highlighted that even trade secrets held by the Government of India have been consistently targeted by foreign governments in acts of active and passive economic espionage, and hence, there is a need for a single statute to address “all issues related to trade secret leakages and economic espionage”. 

Trade secrets are valuable intellectual property (IP) rights derived from confidential information, with their value dependent on secrecy. 

Unlike other intellectual property rights, trade secrets have an indefinite protection duration. 


  • The Department of Legal Affairs and the Legislative Department examined the issue of enacting the Economic Espionage Act and Trade Secrets Protection Act and prepared a concept paper along with a draft cabinet note and a draft Bill.
  • However, due to the inherent complexities of the subject matter, the matter was referred to the Law Commission in October 2017 to examine the possibility of enacting the laws and ensure a thorough evaluation. 
  • Additionally, the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, 2016, as well as the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report also highlighted the need for introducing legislation to deal with trade secrets. 
  • The concept of trade secrets gained attention in 1977 when the Indian government demanded Coca-Cola’s formula, leading to the company’s temporary exit from India.

The Law Commission of India

It is a non-statutory body constituted by a notification of the Government of India from time to time to carry out research in the field of law and make recommendations to the Government. It is an advisory body that works on reforming the legal system of India. 

The Law Commission is composed of the following members:

  • Full-time Chairperson: A retired judge of the Supreme Court of India or a High Court is usually appointed as the Chairperson.
  • Four Full-time Members (including Member-Secretary): These members are legal experts and academicians.

• Ex-officio Members:

  • Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs
  • Secretary, Legislative Department

The Commission can also have up to five part-time members. These members are experts in specific fields of law.

The current Law Commission of India, the 22nd Law Commission, was constituted in February 2020 and its tenure ended in February 2023. However, the Government the extension of its tenure till August 2024. 

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