31 CFR § 1.5 - Confidential commercial information.

§ 1.5 Confidential commercial information.

(a) Definitions -

(1) Confidential commercial information means trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained by the Department from a submitter that may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the FOIA.

(2) Submitter means any person or entity from whom the Department obtains confidential commercial information, directly or indirectly.

(3) Designation of confidential commercial information. A submitter of confidential commercial information must use good faith efforts to designate by appropriate markings, either at the time of submission or within a reasonable time thereafter, any portion of its submission that it considers to be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4. These designations will expire ten years after the date of the submission unless the submitter requests and provides justification for a longer designation period.

(b) When notice to submitters is required.

(1) A component shall promptly provide written notice to a submitter whenever:

(i) The requested confidential commercial information has been designated in good faith by the submitter as information considered protected from disclosure under Exemption 4; or

(ii) The component has a reason to believe that the requested confidential commercial information may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the FOIA.

(2) The notice shall either describe the confidential commercial information requested or include a copy of the requested records or portions of records containing the information. In cases involving a voluminous number of submitters, notice may be made by posting or publishing the notice in a place or manner reasonably likely to accomplish it.

(c) Exceptions to submitter notice requirements. The notice requirements of this section shall not apply if:

(1) The component determines that the confidential commercial information is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA;

(2) The confidential commercial information lawfully has been published or has been officially made available to the public; or

(3) Disclosure of the confidential commercial information is required by a statute other than the FOIA or by a regulation issued in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 12600 of June 23, 1987;

(d) Opportunity to object to disclosure.

(1) A component will specify a reasonable time period as determined within its administrative discretion within which the submitter must respond to the notice referenced above. If a submitter has any objections to disclosure, it should provide the component a detailed written statement that specifies all grounds for withholding the particular confidential commercial information under any exemption of the FOIA. In order to rely on Exemption 4 as a basis for nondisclosure, the submitter must explain why the information constitutes a trade secret, or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential.

(2) A submitter who fails to respond within the time period specified in the notice shall be considered to have no objection to disclosure of the information. An objection to disclosure received by the component after the time period specified in the notice will not be considered by the component. Any information provided by a submitter under this subpart may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA and/or protected from disclosure by applicable exemptions or by a statute other than the FOIA.

(e) Analysis of objections. A component shall consider a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure in deciding whether to disclose the requested confidential commercial information.

(f) Notice of intent to disclose. Whenever a component decides to disclose confidential commercial information over the objection of a submitter, the component shall provide the submitter written notice, which shall include:

(1) A statement of the reasons why each of the submitter's disclosure objections was not sustained;

(2) Copies of the records that the component intends to disclose or, in the alternative, a description of the confidential commercial information to be disclosed; and

(3) A specified disclosure date, which shall be a reasonable time subsequent to the notice.

(g) Notice of FOIA lawsuit. Whenever a requester files a lawsuit seeking to compel the disclosure of confidential commercial information, the component shall promptly notify the submitter.

(h) Requester notification. The component shall notify a requester whenever it provides the submitter with notice and an opportunity to object to disclosure; whenever it notifies the submitter of its intent to disclose the requested confidential commercial information; and whenever a submitter files a lawsuit to prevent the disclosure of the confidential commercial information.