Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: We are currently updating information following recent Queensland and Australian Government announcements. Find assistance and support for coronavirus affected businesses and industries.

How can trade secrets, know-how, and confidential information help my business?

Confidential information is maintained as secret and confidential because it would lose its value if it was generally known.

Consider the implications of the following types of confidential information being generally known, or being known by your competitors.

  TypeDescription
Confidential informationBusiness informationMarketing information If your competitors knew of your marketing plans and strategies, they could employ those strategies to their own advantage.
Financial information The profitability of your business is normally information that you confine to people who 'need to know' that information (i.e. information that you would not share with your competitors).
Customer lists If your competitors knew who your customers were, your competitors could try to persuade your customers to give their business to them.
Trade suppliers list If your competitors knew who your trade suppliers were, they could attempt to also be supplied with unique products that you have.
Identity of people If your competitors were aware of people you might be considering hiring, they might hire them instead.
Passwords, codes, etc. You would not share with anyone other than those who 'need to know' such things as passwords to internet banking, a safe's combination, or any other type of code or password.
Trade secrets and know-howA product formulation Sometimes a formulation is kept as a trade secret so that competitors are not easily equipped to copy or reverse-engineer it.
Software source code The source code of software may be protected by copyright, but that will not protect the algorithms that could be observed from the source code. If the source code was known by your competitors, they might write their own competing code with the benefit of your algorithms and hard work. (Refer to Copyright.)
A manufacturing process You would normally want to keep from your competitors any manufacturing process, procedure or 'secret ingredient' that gives you any type of advantage (e.g. lower cost, more attractive product, greater efficiency, marketing competitiveness).
A raw material If your competitors were aware of the unique material, they could compete with you more effectively, and you would lose your competitive advantage.
A business method If your competitors were aware of your business method or system, they could duplicate your efficiency and compete with you more effectively.
A tool that you have developed and use If your competitors had access to this tool they could achieve the same advantage the tool gives you.
Information about a new product, process or invention, before filing a patent application If your new product, process or invention became known, it would no longer be new (or novel) and you would be disqualified from being granted a patent. (Refer to New products, processes, inventions and patents.)