Confidential information covers a breach of trust, confidence or contract.
For the information to be considered confidential it must have these elements:
- the information must be confidential;
- the information must have been imparted in circumstances arising from an obligation of confidence;
- there must have been an unauthorised use of the information to the detriment of the person claiming the right to maintain the confidentiality;
Most of the litigation involving breach of confidence arises for the use or abuse from employees or former employees of information belonging to their employer whether the information has been obtained or developed during the course of their employment.
Confidential information is also covered by privacy laws, the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), especially if the information is disclosed to government authorities for administration purposes or to the defence departments of the Australian government.
Confidential information can be legally disclosed if compelled under law.
The term “trade secret” has a narrower technical meaning, what really matters is that both terms confidential information and trade secrets refer to information that derives its value from not being generally known. One of the most famous and long term trade secrets is the recipe for Coca Cola which derives better protection as a trade secret, as opposed to being registered in substantial intellectual property laws.
Confidential information and trade secrets are used interchangeably. The next time you hear the words “trade secret” used, think confidential business information instead which gives rise to a competitive edge in business.
Liability by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation