304.7 Business information.§ 304.7 Business information.
(a) In general. Business information obtained by the agency will be disclosed under the FOIA only under this section and in accordance with Executive Order 12,600, 3 CFR part 235 (1988).
(b) Definitions. For purposes of this section:
(1) “Business information” means privileged or confidential commercial or financial information obtained by the agency 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 agency obtains business information, either directly or indirectly. The term includes corporations; state, local, and tribal governments; and foreign governments.
(c) Designation of business information. A submitter of business information will use good-faith efforts to designate, by appropriate markings, either at the time of submission or at a reasonable time thereafter, any and all portion(s) 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.
(d) Notice to submitters. The agency will provide a submitter with prompt written notice of a FOIA request or administrative appeal that seeks its business information wherever required under paragraph (e) of this section, except as provided in paragraph (h) of this section, in order to give the submitter an opportunity to object to disclosure of any specified portion of that information under paragraph (f) of this section. The notice will either describe the business information requested or include copies of the requested records or record portions containing the information. When notification of a voluminous number of submitters is required, notification may be made by posting or publishing the notice in a place reasonably likely to accomplish it.
(e) Where notice is required. Notice will be given to a submitter wherever:
(1) The information has been designated in good faith by the submitter as information considered protected from disclosure under Exemption 4; or
(2) The agency has reason to believe that the information may be protected from disclosure under Exemption 4.
(f) Opportunity to object to disclosure. The agency will allow a submitter a reasonable time to respond to the notice described in paragraph (d) of this section and will specify that time period within the notice. If a submitter has any objection to disclosure, it is required to submit a detailed written statement. The statement must specify all grounds for withholding any portion of the information under any exemption of the FOIA and, in the case of Exemption 4, it must show why the information is a trade secret or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential. In the event that a submitter fails to respond to the notice within the time specified in it, the submitter will be considered to have no objection to disclosure of the information. Information provided by the submitter that is not received by the agency until after its disclosure decision has been made will not be considered by the agency. Information provided by a submitter under this paragraph may itself be subject to disclosure under the FOIA.
(g) Notice of intent to disclose. The agency will consider a submitter's objections and specific grounds for nondisclosure in deciding whether to disclose business information. Whenever the agency decides to disclose business information over the objection of a submitter, it will give the submitter written notice, which will include:
(1) A statement of the reason(s) why each of the submitter's disclosure objections was not sustained;
(2) A description of the business information to be disclosed; and
(3) A specified disclosure date, which will be a reasonable time subsequent to the notice.
(h) Exceptions to notice requirements. The notice requirements of paragraphs (d) and (g) of this section will not apply if:
(1) The agency determines that the information should not be disclosed;
(2) The information lawfully has been published or has been officially made available to the public;
(3) Disclosure of the information is required by statute (other than the FOIA) or by a regulation issued in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 12,600; or
(4) The designation made by the submitter under paragraph (c) of this section appears obviously frivolous - except that, in such a case, the agency will, within a reasonable time prior to a specified disclosure date, give the submitter written notice of any final decision to disclose the information.
(i) Notice of FOIA lawsuit. Whenever a requester files a lawsuit seeking to compel the disclosure of business information, the agency will promptly notify the submitter.
(j) Corresponding notice to requesters. Whenever the agency provides a submitter with notice and an opportunity to object to disclosure under paragraph (d) of this section, it will also notify the requester(s). Whenever the agency notifies a submitter of its intent to disclose requested information under paragraph (g) of this section, it will also notify the requester(s). Whenever a submitter files a lawsuit seeking to prevent the disclosure of business information, the agency will notify the requester(s).