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Trade Secrets, Confidential Information, Privacy and Data Protection


Chambers regularly advises and acts in cases of alleged misappropriation of trade secrets, misuse of confidential information (both commercial and personal), human rights issues relating to misuse of confidential information, protection of legal professional privilege and data protection issues.

Technical secrets

Members of Chambers are able to offer a wide range of technical and scientific expertise over a wide range of disciplines when dealing with cases involving the misuse of technical information. Recent cases have included Croll v Todd (designs for geodesic ray-domes), Collag v Merck (pesticide formulations), Cray Valley v Deltech (resin formulations), Stanelco v Bioprogress (biodegradable capsules), Vestergaard Frandsen v Bestnet (insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets). Other areas of expertise include the confidential aspects of computer software and of business plans and trading methods.

Ex-employee cases

Many trade secret cases involve allegations against ex-employees or ex-directors. These often involve complex legal issues including breach of duty of fidelity, breach of restrictive covenants and breach of fiduciary duty. Recent cases include Ultraframe v Fielding (conservatory roof design), Helmet v Tunnard (fire helmet design), Intranetics v Cookson (traffic camera websites) and Cygnus Automotive v Aquila Electronics (taxi meters).

Media and Publishing, Privacy and Personal  Information

The protection of non-technical information, such as proposed TV-show formats or the contents of unpublished books, and the protection of personal confidential information and privacy have recently become growth areas of law. Members of Chambers have been at the forefront of this development and have been instructed in many high profile cases such as: European Business Consultancy v 19 TV (Pop Idol), Ashdown v Telegraph Group (Ashdown diaries), Times Newspapers v MGN (Thatcher diaries), Bloomsbury v News Group (latest Harry Potter books), Prince of Wales v Associated Newspapers (Prince Charles’ private diaries), Secretary of State for Defence v Guardian Newspapers and X v Y (protection of newspaper sources).

Disclosure of confidential documents and professional privilege

Members of Chambers have extensive experience in the ways of protecting of trade secrets and commercially sensitive information during the course of litigation and in dealing with issues of legal professional privilege. We have been involved in a number of cases in this area including Prince Jefri Bolkiah v KPMG (the leading House of Lords decision on ‘Chinese walls’), Surface Technology v Young (assignment of rights of confidence and privilege), Dyson v Hoover (disclosure obligations in damages inquiry) and IBM v Phoenix (inadvertent loss of privilege).

Data protection

Data protection and the protection of privacy has become a major issue in present day society. A number of us have been instructed by data controllers and by data subjects and have acted in disputes concerning the practices and policies of data controllers, subject access requests, rights to prevent data processing and use of CCTV footage. Recent examples include: Penning v The National Probation Service, Sariyiah v Peters, Fraser & Dunlop, Johnson v The Medical Defence Union and Calvert v Yorkshire Bank. We also have expertise in the preparation of submissions to the Information Commissioner and advising on the data protection implications of transactions such as a merger between two major banks.