Know-how refers to technical innovations that are not protected by patent law or are not readily accessible to patent protection due to an insufficient “inventive step”. Know-how is not recognizable to the public in the final product and can therefore be kept secret. Know-how is therefore also referred to as trade secrets or business secrets. For example, it may concern manufacturing or production procedures or Tolerances.
Know-how represents a significant competitive advantage for its owner, whether because it allows low-cost manufacturing, permits superior product characteristics or allows other advantages over competitors and their products.
Know-how must meet three conditions in order to be ellegible for licensing: It must be “secret,” “substantial,” and “documented.” If these conditions are met, infringements can be successfully prosecuted. With regard to the secrecy and documentation, it is the owner of the Know-how who has to take care of.