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Breach of Confidence

Written by Luke Murphy on 07 January 2009

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The Law of Confidence, within the context of Intellectual Property Law, is there to protect secrets and confidential information. The Law of Confidence acts as a supplement to copyright and patent law, where there may not be sufficient protection in certain situations.

The Law of Confidence may also be applied in personal relationships, for example, those between friends and husbands and wives, illustrated in Stevens v Avery (1988).

There are three main conditions which must be satisfied for imposing a duty of confidence:

  1. There must be some information that has the necessary quality to be confidential;
  2. The information must have been disclosed in circumstances which implied an obligation of confidence;
  3. There must be some unauthorised use of that information.

Note: Trivial information is not protected; information cannot be within the public domain, or common knowledge; 'information' can include almost anything (industrial, personal, literary or artistic).

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