Computer Programmer Breached Employer's Copyright

A computer programmer and former non-executive director who breached his employer’s copyright by leaking specialist software to a trade rival is facing a substantial High Court damages claim after his wrongdoing was revealed.

The man had written the recruitment software for his employer but had covertly made it available to another company operating in the same field. The Court found that he had acted in his own interests and in breach of the fiduciary duty he owed as a director, a position from which he had only subsequently resigned.

His employer had not been aware of, or consented to, his deliberate infringement of copyright and his failure to reveal what he had done amounted to a further breach of duty. His plea that his employer had left it too late to sue him – a six-year time limit applies to breach of copyright cases – was defeated by his attempt to conceal his wrongdoing. The ruling entitled the employer to seek damages or an account of any profits which the man had garnered from his copyright infringements.