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News article12 May 2022European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency

The General Court ruling on the applicability of article 17 DSM Directive and Apple’s trade secret lawsuit.



Poland brought an action before the General Court (GC), seeking for annulment of Article 17 of the Directive 2019/790, on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (from now onwards, DSMD), on the ground that this article clashes with the fundamental right of freedom of expression and information foreseen in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Article 17 DSMD establishes an obligation for Online Content-Sharing Service Providers (OCSSPs) to review that the content uploaded by users is legal, as in case of infringement, they would be liable. The objective pursued by Article 17 is therefore, the protection of Intellectual Property rights. 

When users upload content, the OCSSPs are performing an act of communication to the public or dissemination of content that might be protected by copyright. For this reason, OCSSPs must ensure that the above-mentioned material has been uploaded lawfully, meaning that users are requested to have the appropriate licences or authorisations from the copyright holder to do so. If the material is protected under copyright and the user does not have the correspondent authorisation from the copyright holder to upload it, then the OCSSPs will be found liable. 

The GC concluded by dismissing Poland’s action, stating that the Directive ensures a fair balance between the right to Intellectual Property and the right to freedom of expression and information, on the following grounds. 

The Court considered that the Directive gives the necessary protection to freedom of expression and information, as it excludes the measures that can filter and block lawful content from being uploaded. 

Moreover, the use of works protected by copyright for parody purposes is allowed, meaning that no authorisation from the copyright holder is requested. 

In addition to this, the copyright holder must inform the OCSSPs of the existence of infringing content and from that moment, the OCSSPs will have to take the necessary actions to prevent liability. 

On top of that, the applicability of article 17 must not entail any general monitoring obligation for OCSSPs.  

With regard to the protection of freedom of expression and information, the Directive foresees procedural safeguards for cases in which OCSSPs erroneously block legal content. 

Finally, the Court reminded that it is up to each Member State when transposing the Directive, to strike a fair balance between the fundamental right of freedom of expression and the obligation laid down in article 17 of the DSMD. 

Press release available here.



Apple has sued the start-up Rivos Inc., as they allegedly stole trade secrets that were essential to develop the “system-on-chip” (SoC) technology, used thereby for Apple’s devices. 

In a nutshell, SoCs are integrated circuits that include several computer components on a single chip, including central processing units and graphics processing units.

Allegedly, Rivos sought to hire former Apple engineers with access to the SoCs trade secrets. More specifically, two of these engineers before leaving Apple, transferred to their personal devices a huge volume of files containing highly sensitive information regarding those SoC, and then made it available to Rivos. 

Apple claimed that substantial investments were made in developing these SoC technology and designs, hence they represented such a valuable asset for the tech company. 

For this reason, Apple filed the lawsuit against Rivos and against the two engineers. In the lawsuit, Apple claimed that this sensitive information could provide a competitive advantage to Rivos, allowing them to obtain accelerated SoCs development. As a consequence, Apple asked the Court to issue an injunction to refrain Rivos from using the sensitive information unlawfully obtained, as well as a compensation for the damages.   

We will be monitoring closely until the outcome of this interesting case of (apparent) industrial espionage is available!