Introduction to database rights
When a director, employee or team of employees leaves a business to set up in competition, they will often try to make use of their ex-employer’s customer lists. They may also plan to use other sensitive data such as price lists or supplier contacts. The law won’t prevent fair competition, but it will stop former staff members from misusing data owned by their former employer.
Databases are regulated by the ‘Database Regulations’, which give the database’s creator the right to prevent the database being copied without permission. There are complex rules about what constitutes a database and who owns it, but the Regulations are a useful weapon to consider when any business is faced with an attack upon its customer base from an ex-employee.
At Gaby Hardwicke, we successfully used the Database Regulations to help one of our clients stop the use of its customer list by a former employee. The effect was to stop the launch of the ex-employee’s business, through a court injunction. As with most legal rights, it is essential to take specialist advice as soon as a business suspects its database has been – or is likely to be – misused, since the remedies available from the court are limited where there is delay.
See Paul’s answers to the most commonly asked questions on restrictive covenants in our FAQ videos.
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