The terms “trade secret” and “know- how” both refer to commercial confidential information.
Under European legislation know-how is defined as “a package of information resulting from experience and testing which is secret, substantial and identified”. Many businesses will also have a body of knowledge which they consider to be highly commercially sensitive and comprising a “trade secret”. The key to the value of know-how is accordingly the maintenance of that secrecy.
If the requirements of confidentiality are met, “know-how” may qualify for protection in UK law by using the law of confidential information. The law of confidential information can be used to protect that which is not capable of being protected by other intellectual property rights. The law of confidential information provides indefinite protection.
Businesses will require advice as to how to deal with the transfer and licensing of know- how. The Law Department can provide advice with regard to the appropriate exploitation, licensing and protection of know-how.