36 CFR 902.54 - Trade secrets and commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential.
(a) Trade secrets and commercial or financial information that are privileged and for which confidentiality is requested by the person possessing such privilege are within the statutory exemption. This includes the following:
(1) Commercial or financial information not customarily released to the public, furnished and accepted in confidence or disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm, or both;
(2) Statements of financial interest furnished by officers and employees of the Corporation;
(3) Commercial, technical, and financial information furnished by any person in connection with an application for a loan or a loan guarantee;
(4) Commercial or financial information customarily subjected to an attorney-client or similar evidentiary privilege; or,
(5) Materials in which the Corporation has a property right such as designs, drawings, and other data and reports acquired in connection with any research project, inside or outside of the Corporation, or any grant or contract.
(b) The purpose of this section is to authorize the protection of trade secrets and commercial or financial records that are customarily privileged or are appropriately given to the Corporation in confidence. It assures the confidentiality of trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained by the Corporation through questionnaires and required reports to the extent that the information would not customarily be made public by the person from whom it was obtained. In any case in which the Corporation has obligated itself not to disclose trade secrets and commercial or financial information it receives, this section indicates the Corporation's intention to honor that obligation to the extent permitted by law. In addition, this section recognizes that certain materials, such as research data and materials, formulae, designs, and architectural drawings, have significance not as records but as items of property acquired, in many cases at public expense. In any case in which similar proprietary material in private hands would be held in confidence, material covered in this section may be held in confidence.
(1) In general. For commercial or financial information furnished to the Corporation on or after March 30, 1988, the Corporation shall require the submitter to designate, at the time the information is furnished or within a reasonable time thereafter, any information the submitter considers confidential or privileged. Commercial or financial information provided to the Corporation shall not be disclosed pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request except in accordance with this paragraph.
(2) Notice to submitters. The Corporation shall provide a submitter with prompt written notice of a request encompassing its commercial or financial information whenever required under paragraph (c)(3) of this section, and except as is provided in paragraph (c)(7) of this section. Such written notice shall either describe the exact nature of the information requested or provide copies of the records or portions thereof containing the information. Concurrently with its notice to a submitter, the Corporation shall inform a requestor in writing that the submitter is afforded a reasonable period within which to object to disclosure and that the 10 workday initial determination period provided for in 36 CFR 902.60 may therefore be extended.
(3) When notice is required.
(i) For information submitted to the Corporation prior to March 30, 1988, the Corporation shall provide a submitter with notice of a request whenever:
(A) The information is less than ten years old;
(B) The information is subject to prior express commitment of confidentiality given by the Corporation to the submitter; or
(C) The Corporation has reason to believe that disclosure of the information may result in substantial competitive harm to the submitter.
(ii) For information submitted to the Corporation on or after March 30, 1988, the Corporation shall provide a submitter with notice of a request whenever:
(A) The submitter has in good faith designated the information as confidential, or
(B) The Corporation has reason to believe that disclosure of the information may result in substantial competitive harm to the submitter.
(4) Opportunity to object to disclosure. Through the notice described in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, the Corporation shall afford a submitter a reasonable period within which to provide the Corporation with a detailed statement of any objection to disclosure. Such statement shall specify all grounds for withholding any of the information under any exemption of the Freedom of Information Act and, in the case of Exemption 4, shall demonstrate why the information is contended to be privileged or confidential. Information provided by a submitter pursuant to this paragraph may itself be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
(5) Notice of intent to disclose. The Corporation shall consider carefully a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure prior to determining whether to disclose information. Whenever the Corporation decides to disclose information over the objection of a submitter, the Corporation shall forward to the submitter a written notice which shall include:
(i) A statement of the reasons for which the submitter's disclosure objections were not sustained;
(ii) A description of the information to be disclosed; and
(iii) A specified disclosure date.
(6) Notice of lawsuit. Whenever a requester brings suit seeking to compel disclosure of information covered by paragraph (c) of this section, the Corporation shall promptly notify the submitter.
(7) Exceptions to notice requirements. The notice requirements of this section shall not apply if:
(i) The Corporation determines that the information should not be disclosed;
(ii) The information lawfully has been published or otherwise made available to the public;
(iii) Disclosure of the information is required by law (other than 5 U.S.C. 552); or
(iv) The designation made by the submitter in accordance with paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(3)(ii) of this section appears obviously frivolous; except that, in such case, the Corporation shall provide the submitter with written notice of any final decision to disclose information within a reasonable number of days prior to a specified disclosure date.