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Breach Of Confidence Cases

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BREACH OF CONFIDENCE - CASES Confidential Information Stephens v Avery [1988]

1. Information will not be 'confidential' if it is immoral

2. However this will be found very rarely.

3. On facts, fact that C was in a homosexual relationship was not immoral. Fraser v Thames TV [1984]
C had idea for TV series concerning a female rock group. Was partly fictional and partly based on experiences of C. Idea was communicated to D (a scriptwriter), who then communicated it to D2 (a producer). D and D2's TV company went on to produce TV show based on idea, but using different actresses to C. C sued for breach of confidence. Held:

1. Fact that idea was communicated orally is irrelevant to liability

1. i.e. information can be confidential regardless of its form.

2. To be confidential, idea must have some element of originality not already in public knowledge.

3. Must also be case that idea is clearly identifiable

1. i.e. as vague idea does not suffice

2. but also no need for idea to be fully developed Facts

1. Information was confidential. AG v Observer Ltd [1990]
Former senior MI5 agent published his memoirs in various countries outside UK. Numerous references to it were made in UK broadsheets (e.g. Sunday Times started to publish serialisation of book). Attorney-General sought injunctions against broadsheets for breach of confidence. Held: Lord Keith

1. Even if information has been already published abroad, may still be secret if publishing it in UK would bring it to attention of more people in UK Lord Goff

1. Information will not be confidential where: i) it has entered the public domain ii) Information enters public domain where it is so generally accessible it can no longer be said to be confidential iii) it is trivial

2. On facts, information had lost quality of confidence.

De Maudsley v Palumbo [1996]
C revealed his idea for a new nightclub to D during a dinner party. Information included that night club would operate all night, have top DJs from UK and worldwide, and would be decorated in a 'warehouse' style. D later built Ministry of Sound nightclub, but did not include C. C sued. Held:

1. Is possible for simple ideas to be protected.

2. However nonetheless idea cannot be protected if it is not sufficiently particular and defined Facts

3. Information imparted by C was too general and lacking in originality.

1. i.e. with exception that idea that club would be open all night, none of idea were novel

4. Thus was not confidential. BBC v Harper Collins [2010]
Person who played the Stig on Top Gear wanted to publish autobiography. BBC sued publishers alleging breach of confidence. D claimed there was no breach as information had already been made public through widespread press speculation as to identity of the Stig. Held:

1. Identity of Stig was so generally accessible that it could no longer be regarded as confidential.

2. This because press coverage went well beyond mere speculation as to Stig's identity

1. Rather the statements as to Stig's identity by press would be understood by public as statements of fact Mars v Teknowledge [2009]
C produced vending machines with coin machines in them; D dismantled coin machine and copied technology from it. C brought action for breach of confidence. Held:

1. Once product is on market owner is entitled to dismantle it.

2. Thus information in coin machine was not confidential.

Springboard Doctrine Terrapin v Builder Supply [1967]
D made prefabricated buildings to design specified by C. C communicated manufacturing details and technical specifications to D for this purpose. At end of contract, D began to make

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