Treatment of trade secrets: finding a fair balance for former employees

Hot on the heels of Walker Morris’s briefing on the recent Court of Appeal decision in Vestergaard v Bestnet, and in a further aspect of this complex and ongoing litigation, the Supreme Court has ruled on crucial issues concerning the position of a former employee in receipt of a company’s confidential information.

Briefly, Vestergaard developed techniques that enabled it to manufacture long-lasting mosquito nets with an insect killer impregnated into the fibre. Mrs Trine Sig, a former employee of Vestergaard, along with others, set up a business in competition with Vestergaard — Bestnet — in conjunction with a Dr Skovmand. Dr Skovmand had previously worked as a consultant with Vestergaard and had played a major role in the development of the relevant techniques.

In earlier litigation, the High Court had held that Bestnet, through Mrs Sig, Dr Skovmand and others, had misused Vestergaard’s trade secrets concerning the chemicals and recipes for the nets. So far as Mrs Sig was concerned, however, the Court of Appeal reversed the finding that she had acted in breach of confidence. Vestergaard appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court…

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