Friday, August 28, 2009
High Court upholds claim for misuse of confidential information, breach of database right and passing off against ex-employee
The High Court has held that an ex-employee who copied and retained various documents and information belonging to his ex-employer, including thousands of contact details and sales figures, had acted in breach of confidence. Peter Smith J said that the claimant's database was an important tool as it provided an immediate base which the ex-employee could use to start up his rival business of organising conferences. He held that the ex-employee's activities amounted to a classic springboard operation. The judge also held that the ex-employee's acts in extracting a large amount of information from the claimant's database was a breach of article 16(1) of the Copyright and Rights in Database Regulations 1997, as it was clear that the database had been created with substantial investment in obtaining, verifying and presenting its contents. The judge also upheld a claim in passing off as the ex-employee had suggested that the conference his company was organising was a follow-up to the conference the claimants had held the previous year. Case: First Conferences Services Limited & another v Richard Bracchi & another  EWHC 2176 (Ch), 26 August 2009.