Dyson yesterday accused its competitor Bosch of paying an employee to steal company secrets from its research division, according to reports.
Court proceedings were yesterday issued in the High Court accusing Bosch of allegedly installing a rogue engineer employee to pass on secrets over a two year period. Dyson claims that Bosch paid the rogue employee through an “unincorporated” business created specifically for this purpose.
It is reported that Dyson confronted Bosch with the evidence of wrongdoing but this has been denied and Bosch has refused to return any technology.
Mark Taylor, Dyson’s research and development director has made it clear what it alleges has been stolen by Bosch:-
“Bosch’s Vice President for engineering employed a Dyson engineer and benefitted from our confidential know-how and expertise. We have spent over fifteen years and £100m developing high-speed brushless motors, which power our vacuum cleaners and Airblade hand dryers. We are demanding the immediate return of our intellectual property.”
Dyson is well known for vigorously protecting its intellectual property and has been embroiled in huge litigation cases over the years, particularly with Hoover.
The claim is still very much in its infancy and no doubt there will be further developments of this high profile case over the coming months.
This case does reinforce the growing trend for employees to misuse confidential information and misappropriate trade secrets. Competitors wish to piggy back on the success of others, particularly in times of a recession when there are less funds available to invest in research and development.
Businesses need to be aware of the potential risks, as all businesses have commercial assets which should be protected, including trade secrets.
An intellectual property audit would identify the key areas of risk that pose a threat and where available, recommendations would be made for protection, including where necessary updated employment contracts and non disclosure agreements in cases of confidentiality.