The claimant companies appealed against a reversal of their judgment against a former employee that she had misused their confidential trade secrets after leaving their employment. The companies manufactured and supplied bednets designed to prevent malarial infection. The nets used confidential techniques for maintaining the insect repellants.
Held: The appeals failed. The respondent had not herself been responsible for acquiring the information, and she had not known that the material had been generated by the appellant. Nor was it possible to imply any necessary clause into the employment contract. Whilst the law must properly protect trade secrets, it also had to allow for proper competition. Andant should only be liable under common design if he shared with others those elements rendering the design unlawful.
Lord Neuberger, President, Lord Clarke, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath
 WLR(D) 200,  ICR 981,  IRLR 654,  EMLR 24,  UKSC 31,  1 WLR 1556, UKSC 2011/0144
Bailii Summary, Bailii, WLRD, SC Summary, SC
England and Wales
Cited – Seager v Copydex Ltd CA 1967
Mr Seager had invented a patented carpet grip which he manufactured and marketed under the trade mark Klent. There were protracted negotiations between Mr Seager and Copydex over a proposal for Copydex to market the Klent. One of the issues in the . .
Cited – Coco v A N Clark (Engineers) Ltd ChD 1968
Requirememts to prove breach of confidence
A claim was made for breach of confidence in respect of technical information whose value was commercial.
Held: Megarry J set out three elements which will normally be required if, apart from contract, a case of breach of confidence is to . .
Cited – Attorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd (No 2) (‘Spycatcher’) HL 13-Oct-1988
Loss of Confidentiality Protection – public domain
A retired secret service employee sought to publish his memoirs from Australia. The British government sought to restrain publication there, and the defendants sought to report those proceedings, which would involve publication of the allegations . .
Cited – Unilever Plc v Gillette (UK) Limited CA 1989
Unilever claimed infringement of its patent. The court was asked whether there was a good arguable case against the United States parent company of the existing defendant sufficient to justify the parent company to be joined as a defendant and to . .
Cited – Royal Brunei Airlines SDN BHD v Tan PC 24-May-1995
(Brunei) The defendants were a one-man company, BLT, and the one man, Mr Tan. A dishonest third party to a breach of trust was liable to make good a resulting loss even though he had received no trust property. The test of knowledge was an objective . .
Cited – Lancashire Fires Ltd v S A Lyons and Co Ltd CA 1996
It was claimed that a loan to the employee from a customer of the employer coupled with an exclusive supply agreement by the employee as and when the competing business becomes operative was in breach of an non-compete clause.
Held: The . .
At ChD – Vestergaard Frandsen As and Another v Bestnet Europe Ltd and Others ChD 3-Apr-2009
The claimant companies alleged misuse of trade secrets acquired by the defendants through former employees. . .
At ChD – Vestergaard Frandsen A/S and Others v Bestnet Europe Ltd and Others ChD 26-Jun-2009
Arnold J reviewed the authorities and expressed his conclusion that an injunction will not be granted to prevent a future publication of information that has ceased to be confidential. He qualified this statement in relation to information that . .
At CA – Vestergaard Frandsen Sa ( Mvf3 Aps) and Others v Bestnet Europe Ltd and Others CA 20-Apr-2011
The claimants manufactured insecticidal fabrics. They claimed that the defendants had produced their own product using confidential information obtained from their former employees now working for the defendant. The courts had granted injunctions . .
At CA – Vestergaard Frandsen A/S and Others v Bestnet Europe Ltd and Others CA 25-Apr-2013
Appeal by the defendants from the judgment and order of Arnold J in which he dismissed the defendants’ application to strike out in part the claimants’ Amended Points of Claim in an enquiry as to damages for breach of confidence. . .
Cited – Vidal-Hall and Others v Google Inc QBD 16-Jan-2014
The claimants alleged misuse of their private information in collecting information about their internet useage when using Google products. Google now applied for an order setting aside consent for service out of the jurisdiction.
Held: The . .
At SC – Vestergaard Frandsen A/S (Now Called Mvf 3Aps) v Bestnet Europe Ltd and Others ChD 3-Oct-2014
The court had already found that the defendants had misused the confidential information of the claimant being secret information used in the manufacture of long lasting insecticidal mosquito bed nets mainly sold in areas of the world where malaria . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 30 October 2021; Ref: scu.510006