Traditionally, employers have used restrictive covenants in contracts and relied upon the law relating to confidential information to protect their business from ex-employees wanting to make use of their information for their new employer, according to leading Black Country law firm George Green LLP.
However a recent case has shown that there are additional tactics which can be used, such as using the law on intellectual property, to prevent the unauthorised use of confidential information.
Julia Fitzsimmons, an Associate in the employment team at George Green LLP, says that well drafted restrictive covenants are still the bedrock of protecting a business from unscrupulous employees.
“It is always a good idea to get these right from the start of the employment relationship and tailor the restrictions in any contract or service agreement. However, a recent case has highlighted an additional route which could be taken to help employers who find themselves under attack.
In the recent case of First Conferences Services Limited v Bracchi, the employee copied swathes of the client’s database and sales information. He then sent these to his private email address and set up a competing business. First Conferences then sued Mr Bracchi for infringement of its database rights and copyright.
The court found that the employer had invested a substantial amount of time gathering the information, checking it, structuring it for their own purposes. The court therefore found that the information qualified for protection as a database. In addition First Conferences could rely on the fact that they had copyright over their documents.”
According to Ms Fitzsimmons, this decision provides a useful alternative method of attack in the employer’s armoury.
“Business contacts and customer details are the life blood of any business and employers need to invest in its protection. A properly drafted contract of employment or service agreement with restrictions on unfairly competing with the business after leaving is vital.
George Green LLP has a free contract checking service for employers and offers advice on drawing up tailored and effective restrictive covenants to keep confidential information just that – confidential.”