Full case report

Covance Laboratories v J

Reference 20 & 27 March 2003
Court Chancery Division

Judge Etherton J & Timothy Lloyd J

Date of Judgment 27 Mar 2003


Summary

Breach of confidence – public domain – corporate documents – whether internet publication defeated claim in confidence – injunctions


Facts

Animal rights activists obtained from an infiltrator copies of a pharmaceutical company’s confidential internal documents. These were placed on the internet. The company, having taken steps to persuade the ISPs to remove the material sought an injunction to restrain further disclosure and orders for delivery up.


Issue

Had internet publication resulted in so much information coming into the public domain that the injunctions should be refused?


Held

Injunctions granted


Comment

In this case it was possible to obtain injunctions, and to prevent substantial dissemination of the confidential information at issue, despite the opportunities that exist to use the internet to place information in the public domain and thereby potentially defeat a claim to commercial confidentiality. Success depended heavily on the vigorous steps taken through internet experts to persuade ISPs to close down sites in various jurisdictions.


Instructing Solicitors

Pinsents for the Claimant