Confidential information can be an important and valuable part of a company’s intellectual property. It is therefore a good idea to ensure that such information is adequately protected.
In the UK, there is no legal instrument for registration and protection of Confidential Information.
However, Know-how in relation to methods and best practices (adopted often using accumulated skills that offer a competitive advantage), formulas, inventions, drawings, procedures and designs, may be protectable using contracts, and secure demarcation and classification of such information within an organisation. Here, emphasis should be to provide access to this information only to persons who will use such information in their day to day work as part of their job description. While this is easier said than done, an organisation can establish procedures, often with the help of technology to ensure that their Confidential Information is secure, and accessed only on a need to know basis.
Confidential Information must also be considered during investment, asset acquisition or joint-venture discussions. This is important to ensure that your intellectual property is properly safeguarded. We recommend use of well-drafted non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and if you are the buyer, an audit of the confidential information, to ascertain its scope and true value, and how it will fit in your organisation.
If you are the disclosing party, it is not essential to disclose every piece of Confidential Information before a deal is signed, however, you must clearly inform the other side that certain critical confidential information cannot be disclosed until a deal is finalised, because such information is what gives your business it’s competitive edge over competitors, and disclosing the details prior to signing of an a joint venture or buyout agreement would empower your competitors. But this must not be overstated.
To give an example, if you have patented a process of coating metal surfaces using nanomaterials prepared using a certain method, and subsequently you realise that you can more efficiently and cost-effectively operate the machinery when at a temperature of between 23 to 27 degrees centigrade, using the same process, but with savings of 15% on substrate and coating material than when operating at other temperatures as disclosed in your Patent specification, this information can give you a competitive edge of overs others who are not aware of the optimum operational temperatures of the process. Thus, while you may disclose the contents of the Patent application/ granted Patent, once an NDA has been signed, it is in your best interest to disclose the critical part of the confidential information only after a long-term commercial agreement that you are happy with has been signed.
Our company can assist you to put in place measures to adequately protect your confidential information, including reviewing agreements, identifying confidential information, recommending software that can be used to demarcate and store classified information and various other actions. For more information, contact us on 0161 435 6212.