The recent court case between the BBC and the publishers of an autobiography, whose subject claims to be the infamous “Stig” from the popular Top Gear programme, is a high profile illustration of the importance of confidentiality obligations, even if the BBC was ultimately unsuccessful in its attempts to obtain an injunction preventing the book from being published.
Confidentiality obligations arise between two parties where there is the transfer of information which is not public knowledge from one party to another in circumstances where obligations of confidentiality arise. Those circumstances can arise in a variety of ways, such as being inferred through way the information came to being disclosed to a party or by signing a disclosure agreement.
Confidentiality agreements have a key role to play in the way businesses operate on a day to day basis, particularly in respect of key commercial information such as customer lists.
The court refused to award an injunction to the BBC preventing the disclosure of the identity of the Stig, despite the confidentiality agreement which was reportedly in place between the BBC and the Stig. However, this was only the first stage of the case, and the BBC still has the option of pursuing the publisher and the person behind the Stig for another remedy, namely damages.
Although the BBC could not on the facts persuade the court that an injunction should be issued the case underlines the important role that confidentiality agreements play in protecting non-registerable intellectual property rights which constitute confidential information- in this case the identity of the Stig. Businesses should have a robust precedent confidentiality agreement drafted which they use in all relevant cases and in particular be cautious of signing an agreement drafted by the other party without having it checked by the business’s own lawyers.