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Are Your Trade Secrets Leaking Out? The Law Can Help You!

Data stickThe ease with which data can be printed out from a computer system or transferred onto a memory stick means that there is always a risk that trade secrets may end up in the wrong hands. However, one High Court case made plain that the law is far from impotent when dealing with such situations.

A man who was extremely aggrieved after his job application was turned down by a leading IT company had managed to get hold of confidential documents which had been printed out from the company’s computerised human resources system. The documents contained detailed information about the company’s staff, including personal contact details, and could have been extremely damaging had they ended up in the hands of a competitor or a headhunter.

The company claimed that the man had threatened to use his possession of the documents as ‘leverage’ in his quest for a job at a high salary. He had made a number of allegations about the company’s employment practices which he had suggested would be of interest to the media.

The Court noted that the man was quite unable to accept that the failure of his job application was due to his lack of the necessary skills, knowledge and relevant experience. He had refused to reveal how he managed to get hold of the documents and there was no substance in his allegations against the company’s practices, which were wholly lawful and responsible.

In those circumstances, the Court issued a permanent injunction, requiring the man to hand back the documents and any other property belonging to the company that he had in his possession. He was also banned from revealing any of the documents’ contents to third parties and from inducing or procuring others to provide him with further confidential information about the company.