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What are trade secrets, know-how and confidential information?

Confidential information is any type of information that you regard as confidential. Confidential information has value because you know the information, and others do not. Trade secrets and know-how are subsets of confidential information.

Below are a few examples of confidential information in general, as well as examples of trade secrets and know-how. Each type of business will have its own unique trade secrets, know-how and confidential information.

 TypeDescription
Confidential informationBusiness informationMarketing information Business plans, marketing plans and steps, strategies, marketing forecasts including financial forecasts, etc.
Financial information Details of your revenue, expenses, salary payments, borrowings, profits, losses, cash flow forecasts, etc.
Customer lists Who your customers are, as well as their details, including contact person, address, phone numbers, email addresses, special terms of trade, etc.
Trade suppliers list Who your important suppliers are, particularly those that may not be so well known, including the contact person, address, phone numbers, email addresses, special terms of trade, etc.
Identity of certain people The identity of applicants for a position, for example.
Passwords, codes etc. Passwords to internet banking, a safe's combination, or any other type of code or password.
Trade secrets and know-howA product formulation The formula of ingredients for a particular product.
Software source code The source code of software that reveals the algorithms and uniqueness of the software application.
A manufacturing process Any secret manufacturing process or procedure that gives you some type of advantage (lower cost, more attractive product, greater efficiency, marketing competitiveness).
A raw material You may use a unique raw material in your product or process that gives your product a unique or desirable characteristic.
A business method You may have a particular process or system for doing things that makes you particularly efficient.
A tool that you have developed and use You may have developed a unique tool with a certain function that is advantageous that you do not wish your competitors to have.
Information about a new product, process or invention, before filing a patent application If you intend to file a patent application to protect your new product, process or invention, it must be new (or novel) at the time that you file the application for the patent, otherwise you will be disqualified from obtaining the patent. This means that you must protect it as confidential information before filing the patent application. (Refer to New products, processes and inventions.)