Restraint provision upheld: magazine contacts list

Cases

Restraint provision upheld: magazine contacts list

The fact that information relating to contact details of clients might also be available via 'public' sources such as the Yellow Pages did not prevent that information being confidential if its use by an ex-employee had the potential to harm the business.

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The fact that information relating to contact details of clients might also be available via 'public' sources such as the Yellow Pages did not prevent that information being confidential if its use by an ex-employee had the potential to harm the business.
 
The 'confidential' nature of such a list came from the convenient manner in which it had been compiled and made available only to employees of the business.
 
The Federal Court issued an injunction to prevent a former editor from using her former employer’s client contact list after she had resigned and taken a similar job with a rival publisher.
 
Background
 
In the new job, she became involved with another publication serving the same industry, the road transport industry. The managing director of her former employer became aware that she had been contacting clients in its database of subscribers and advertisers and informing them that she was working in a new job and also available for freelance work.
 
He claimed that this action had the potential to cost his company business and damage it financially, and requested that the employee return the database list and not use it.
 
The ex-employee claimed that she had done most of the work in compiling the list, a large proportion of which was from business cards and contacts from trade shows. She claimed that the same information could be obtained from publicly available sources such as the Yellow Pages and road transport industry publications. There were over 1000 names and contact details on the list.
 
Format of information was confidential
 
However, the Court ruled that the information on the database, including all contents compiled by the ex-employee, amounted to confidential material. The confidentiality did not arise from any secrecy relating to the actual contents of the material, but from the fact that it had been compiled into a conveniently-arranged list that was only available to employees of the company.
 
Restraint granted, expert to examine computers
 
The Court ordered that the restraint be upheld, pending full hearing and determination of the matter.
 
It foreshadowed that the employee might be forced to remove or delete relevant material from the computers of her new employee. Therefore, the Court also directed that a case management conference take place to decide whether it was necessary to appoint an independent expert to examine the relevant computers to discover whether they contained any such relevant information.
 
 
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