Intellectual Property


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Intellectual Property

Stealing Company Secrets

A case was recently heard in Australia, in which an employee of a company illegally took confidential information. The Court held that the employee breached his employment contract, the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and Corporations Act 2001, when he downloaded company files before resigning and then used the information to gain an advantage for himself and his new employer. The Judge ordered the employee to pay $50,000 in damages, as well as his former employer’s legal costs, with the intention that this decision act as a deterrent for similar copyright breaches in the future.

Stealing LinkedIn Connections

A case was heard in the United States where it was ruled that LinkedIn contacts could be considered a trade secret. The manager of a company emailed himself a list of LinkedIn contacts that he was in charge of, before the termination of his employment. He then formed a new business, which was competing with his former employer. The Judge found that electronic contact lists could be considered a trade secret, despite the opposite being argued by the employee.

A similar case based on this issue is currently being heard in Australia in which a former employee used a recruitment company’s candidate database to populate her LinkedIn contacts. The decision made in this case should clear up Australia’s legal position on the classification of contact lists as intellectual property, as it is currently not clear.

What does this mean for your business?

If you believe an employee has infringed your business’ intellectual property rights, you may be able to take action against them.

Some of the services we have provided for our clients include reviewing employment contracts. We can add clauses to your existing contract to protect intellectual property, confidential or commercially sensitive information.


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