If you know or suspect that a former employee has stolen confidential information about your business, such as a price list, customer list, strategic plan or product formula, we’ll help you act fast to successfully stop them before irreparable damage is done to your business. We’ll rapidly look at what has happened and our recommended next steps will depend on what steps your ex-employee has taken to use the stolen data.
We may advise that we immediately go to court on your behalf and obtain an emergency court order (known as an ‘injunction’) that will command your ex-employee to return the data and/or never disclose it or not disclose it any further.
If they’ve already made use of it, we’ll talk you through your options to recover it, prevent anyone else using or acting on it and to get compensation for the value of any loss you suffer as a result of someone else already having used it to your detriment.
And if someone else besides the ex-employee has used it, you may find you have more than one person from whom you can recover compensation - which may be helpful where the ex-employee is not financially capable of compensating you for any damage that the disclosure causes you.
This is a good question - and a lot hangs on it because you must be able to prove the ex-employee removed this unpublished, secret material or has disclosed his/her knowledge of it to someone else to win your complaint.
Business secrets can cover a wide range of data. They would include an unpublished price list, an internally recorded customer database or customer order list, even a specialised manufacturing practice or a product formula or recipe. They could cover the content of an internal strategy document, or an internal project plan.
There’s a good starting ‘rule of thumb’ here: if it’s information that anyone without any specialist knowledge of your business would reasonably conclude you wouldn’t want to share with a competitor and you wouldn’t want emblazoned across tomorrow’s news headlines and it cannot be discovered by any normal and lawful research means (handing over a password to access it is not considered normal or lawful), then it’s likely that it’s a business secret.
This can be an anxious experience and you’ll need advisers skilled in resolving the situation calmly and robustly. We take a holistic approach to advising our clients.
For example, you might need to inform investors, insurers and others who may be affected by the incident, ideally without causing panic but ensuring they understand what has happened. We can take care of the details for you and ensure that you meet your legal and corporate commitments, while successfully managing your general business relationships and public reputation.
If you’re reading this and it’s just happened to you, we’re here to help and we can do so right away.