The importance of business secrets has increased pursuant to the evolution of new paradigms (such
as the growing value of data and the development of IT and AI in innovation) and to the creation of a
legal protection in many countries and more recently in the European Union and in France. In
addition, one must underline that the present digital era creates high risks of illegitimate confidential
information disclosures by human error or cyber attacks, as compared to the economy of past
decades. Consequently, Business secrets should be at the heart of any company’s strategy to protect
and value its key confidential information and data procuring a competitive advantage. The value
and the need to protect these business secrets as a particular asset are generally implicitly recognized
in enterprises but not yet fully established.
This article aims at explaining how confidential information can be a business secret benefiting from a
legal protection and, as a consequence, how its value and even its recognition as an intangible asset
can be established to the benefit of the company and its users. The authors have chosen to refer to
business secrets in line with the French expression “secret d’affaires”, as it seems to offer a wider
approach than the expression “trade secrets” used in some national laws. All these assets relying on
highly secured business secrets can also be at the basis of immediate business value, not only of
future value, for instance in R&D that leads to innovative business models and value creation in
strategic alliances, competitiveness, reputation, expertise exposure, etc. High Growth Enterprises are
naturally particularly concerned, but medium and small businesses or even start-ups should not
underestimate their interest either. In conclusion, the governance of business secrets is worth the
investment despite its apparent burden for companies.