Individual companies within their particular industries often create proprietary components of a product or service as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors. These trade secrets, as they’re referred to, are protected by state laws.
Within the oil and natural gas industry, companies that create proprietary formulas, methods, techniques or processes for hydraulic fracturing are protected by these trade-secret laws, and therefore are not required to reveal the chemicals used. In addition, many states have enacted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which provides a legal framework for companies operating in multiple states. When FracFocus was developed in 2011, this limited our ability to provide a truly comprehensive database of information.
In response, FracFocus developed a reporting method that allows companies to provide the required information while protecting their proprietary components. This method, called the
"systems approach", decouples ingredients from their respective trade names, making it very difficult for an end user to connect the two.
The ability to protect the proprietary portions of this information – while still providing a more complete list of chemical ingredients used – decreases the use of trade secrets in disclosures, thereby improving public transparency.
The term “trade secret” as understood in FracFocus also includes the terms “TS,” “confidential,” “CBI” and “proprietary.” FracFocus functions solely as a means to report chemicals as trade secrets on disclosure reports. We are unable to verify or certify that a formula or method listed as a trade secret is entitled to such protection. This policy is based on two factors:
- FracFocus is a third-party reporting system, operating as an unbiased resource for information. No legal authority is granted to FracFocus to determine what is or is not officially categorized and protected as a trade secret. This is solely at the discretion of the individual states in which the companies operate.
- The capabilities of FracFocus are limited to functioning as a database and educational resource. All system operations are focused on providing the most robust and user-friendly structure possible, and do not extend to determining the legal classification of chemicals or maintaining current knowledge of changing state laws.