Muneeb Dean, Head of Corporate at DBS Law examines the tricky subject of protecting valuable data collected on company social media sites.
Often small businesses will trust senior and key personnel to manage and run the Company’s Linked In account, and keep a central record of all business cards received from key customers and suppliers. This can include giving the employee the Company’s Linked In user name and password and letting them manage the account. What happens if they leave, and you then realise they have used all the Linked In data, together with information on the business cards to email all your key suppliers and customers, and set up a competing business? This may sound far-fetched, but it can happen, and did happen in a recent case which reached the High Court in London.
What happened in this case?
Three senior employees resigned their positions and were put on garden leave. Their contracts of employment were very basic, and did not include any covenants preventing the employees competing with the Company. After they left, the Company found out that the ex-employees had set up another company together, registered a domain name, and were going to work in competition. Furthermore, the ex-employees had;
The Judge said that the ex-employees had taken active steps to compete against the Company, and were using confidential information belonging to the Company. The judge granted an injunction stopping the ex-employees using the information found on the business cards.
This shows that the Courts will take any attempt by ex-employees to misuse Company contacts in Linked In and business cards very seriously, even if the information has been maintained by an employee at work.
What practical steps can you take to protect your business?