Broadly speaking, any confidential business information which provides an enterprise with a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret. Trade secrets encompass manufacturing or industrial secrets and commercial secrets. The unauthorized use of such information by persons other than the holder is regarded as an unfair practice and a violation of the trade secret.

The secret therefore, must be defined as an intellectual property right covering all of the information, regardless of the type, whose value allows the entrepreneur to use it in practice and as a result, better exploit their specific activity or industry.

The subject matter of trade secrets includes sales methods, distribution methods, consumer profiles, advertising strategies, lists of suppliers and clients, and manufacturing processes. Clearly unfair practices in respect of secret information include industrial or commercial espionage, breach of contract and breach of confidence.

Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that the protection of a trade secret is, on the whole, limited in the majority of countries, given that the conditions and scope of its protection can vary significantly from country to country.

In this sense, while the majority of R&D results are not protected by patents or copyrights because they do not comply with the requirements for them, they do however, constitute technical know-how which has taken the companies a great deal of time and money to create. This accounts for the need for legislation to recognize the possibility of protecting this type of useful knowledge as a secret, which, as such, should be considered as a category of intellectual property.

Protecting industrial and commercial secrets is undoubtedly for a good reason: to shore up company competitiveness.