Trade Secrets vs. Confidential Information

May 1, 2012 — 1,203 views  

There is an old saying that applies to fruits and vegetables - all fruits are vegetables, but not all vegetables are fruit. The same applies to trade secrets and confidential information - trade secrets are always confidential information, but confidential information does not always constitute a trade secret. There are a few specific ways a court determines the outcome of such disputes, and the following steps must be understood to distinguish the difference between the two designations.

A trade secret is defined as information that is secret to a company. If this information is revealed to the general public, it could be disastrous for the corporation's business. For example, imagine if the recipe for Coca Cola was released - no one would ever buy their soda again because it could easily be replicated. Three qualities must be met for confidential information to be branded a trade secret.

1.) The information must be proven to be secret to certain members of the company and known to no one else, not even those employees' friends or family.

2.) The data was unveiled in a way that was explicitly forbidden, such as through a TV interview or an email.

3.) The release of information resulted in direct financial loss for the company in question.

If these three situations are met, than the confidential information in question qualifies as a trade secret and instances where it is revealed may be prosecuted as such.