Trade Secrets in UK Law

See also
Leading Cases
  • Littlewoods Organisation Ltd v Harris
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 03 Agosto 1977

    The reason is because it is so difficult to draw the line between information which is confidential and information which is not: and it is very difficult to prove a breach when the information is of such a character that a servant can carry it away in his head. The difficulties are such that the only practicable solution is to take a covenant from the servant by which he is not to go to work for a rival in trade. Such a covenant may well be hold to be reasonable if limited to a short period.

  • OBG Ltd and another v Allan and Others
    • House of Lords
    • 02 Mayo 2007

    To be liable for inducing breach of contract, you must know that you are inducing a breach of contract. It is not enough that you know that you are procuring an act which, as a matter of law or construction of the contract, is a breach. Nor does it matter that you ought reasonably to have done so. He took the information in the honest belief that the employee would not be in breach of contract.

  • Attorney General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd and Others (No. 2)
    • House of Lords
    • 13 Octubre 1988

    I start with the broad general principle (which I do not intend in any way to be definitive) that a duty of confidence arises when confidential information comes to the knowledge of a person (the confidant) in circumstances where he has notice, or is held to have agreed, that the information is confidential, with the effect that it would be just in all the circumstances that he should be precluded from disclosing the information to others.

    But it is well settled that a duty of confidence may arise in equity independently of such cases; and I have expressed the circumstances in which the duty arises in broad terms, not merely to embrace those cases where a third party receives information from a person who is under a duty of confidence in respect of it, knowing that it has been disclosed by that person to him in breach of his duty of confidence, but also to include certain situations, beloved of law teachers - where an obviously confidential document is wafted by an electric fan out of a window into a crowded street, or when an obviously confidential document, such as a private diary, is dropped in a public place, and is then picked up by a passer-by.

  • Lansing Linde Ltd v Kerr
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 10 Octubre 1990

    Mr. Poulton suggested that a trade secret is information which, if disclosed to a competitor, would be liable to cause real (or significant) harm to the owner of the secret. I would add first, that it must be information used in a trade or business, and secondly that the owner must limit the dissemination of it or at least not encourage or permit widespread publication.

  • Campbell v MGN Ltd
    • House of Lords
    • 06 Mayo 2004

    Instead of the cause of action being based upon the duty of good faith applicable to confidential personal information and trade secrets alike, it focuses upon the protection of human autonomy and dignity - the right to control the dissemination of information about one's private life and the right to the esteem and respect of other people.

  • Bullivant (Roger) Ltd v Ellis
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 23 Mayo 1986

    In order to consider those submissions it is necessary to start by restating, so far as they are material, the principles of law upon which an employer's right to sue an employee for misuse of confidential information is founded. Those principles have, I believe, been clarified in the recent judgments of Mr. Justice Goulding and this court in Faccenda Chicken Ltd. v. Fowler [1985] 1 AER 724 and [1986] 1 AER 617.

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