1 Court orders delivery up of harmless database

The IPKat found this on LexisNexis' Butterworths All England Direct subscription service: it's Village Investigations Ltd v Gardener, a Queen’s Bench Division decision of Judge Richard Seymour QC, sitting as a judge of the High Court.

Village, a company that ran a consumer debt recovery service, claimed that the second defendant both copied a database containing customer contact details and pricing. According to Village the second defendant either had used, or was about to use, the confidential information in that database for the purpose of competing with it. The second defendant moved to another company that was also involved in debt collection but which was not in competition with Village; he then left the debt recovery industry altogether. Village sued for an order for the delivery up of the database, an injunction restraining the second defendant from making use of the information contained in it, plus damages. It was Village's evidenced contention that the other company was going to expand into competition with it; the second defendant had also signed an ‘acknowledgement and undertaking’ document in which he undertook not to remove media containing data from Village's premises.

The court ordered delivery up, plus an injunction:
* On the evidence, while the second defendant had copied the database in breach of the acknowledgement and undertaking document he had signed, he gained nothing by so doing;

* The information in the database was of no obvious value to the second defendant because the other had never expanded into direct consumer debt recovery and the second defendant no longer worked in debt recovery;

* The making of a copy was a technical breach of contract for which Village was entitled to nominal damages. Also, since the second defendant had not been frank about his possession of a copy of the database, the court would grant an order for its delivery up and a permanent injunction restraining him from making use of the information contained in it.
The IPKat very rarely spots cases in which delivery up is actually ordered, particularly where it doesn't look as though any loss to the claimant is likely to result from the defendant's wrongful act. Merpel says, if in copyright infringement cases you can get additional "punitive" damages, what's wrong with ordering "punitive" delivery up? The IPKat adds, if the database was so useless, why did the second defendant bother defending what looks like an impossibly weak case?

2 Another month, another Patent World

The October 2005 issue of Informa's Patent World has now reached the IPKat. Like all good kats, he's delighted that the cover illustration features fish, but there are even some pretty good things inside the journal. There's

* Chris Thornham (SJ Berwin) on ways of reducing the cost of UK patent litigation - it's the usual problem of money again;

* Mike Hawkins (Baldwins) on the first patent case to go before the New Zealand Supreme Court;

* Jonathan Ball (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer) on the UK's streamlined patent litigation procedure.
There are also lots of little snippets of news and tidbits of helpful information, in case you don't have time to read the articles ..


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