Protecting your databases from employees

26 Sep 2016

Departing employees who intend to compete with your business or tap into your client base will usually need to take information from your business in order to give them a competitive advantage.  Often you can protect this through the law on confidentiality or through restrictive covenants in the employment contract.  But there may be a more simple remedy available if they have breached your database rights.

These rights exist independently from copyright or other intellectual property rights and will exist in any electronically accessible database into which you have put substantial investment (of effort, time or money) and that fits the other elements of the statutory definition.  They could exist in a myriad of business tools: customer lists, contact lists, price lists, intranets, inventory systems, document management systems etc.

If a departing employee takes or uses data from your database without your consent, they have breached your IP rights and you are entitled to sue them, regardless of whether the data is also confidential.  The courts can grant injunctions preventing further use or disclosure and may also award either damages or an account of the profits that the employee has made from the use of your data.

Claims of lower value can be heard in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, a specialist court established to deal with small IP claims, which can award up to £500,000 in damages/profits and up to £50,000 in costs.

Enforcing database rights can be a relatively effective weapon against employees who use your data.  For more information please contact:

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