Tanzania Steel Pipes Limited v Y.K. Wong, Commercial Case No. 41 of 2007, High Court of Tanzania, Commercial Division at Dar es Salaam (Unreported)
Date of Judgment: August 21, 2007
Y.K Wong, the defendant, was employed by Tanzania Steel Pipes Limited, the plaintiff, as its technical director. In the course of his employment, the defendant acquired confidential information relating to the plaintiff’s business. While in the plaintiff’s employ, the defendant entered into business dealings with companies in South Africa and Botswana. The defendant purported to act on the plaintiff’s behalf, but in fact acted to the defendant’s personal benefit. At the point of termination, the defendant was in the process of establishing factories in Tanzania to supply products similar to those manufactured by the plaintiff. The plaintiff terminated the defendant’s employment for abuse of office and for breach of trust.
Upon filing this lawsuit, the plaintiff requested a perpetual injunction to restrain the defendant from creating factories in Tanzania, similar to those of the plaintiff’s, and to restrain the defendant from the distribution of the plaintiff’s products. The plaintiff also requested general damages and costs.
(i) All registered intellectual property (“IP”) is protected under the law, but not all IP rights are required to be registered to receive protection.
(ii) Confidential information is a type of IP, which does not need to be registered in order to be protected.
(iii) If confidential information is imparted in confidence for a limited purpose, it cannot be used for a different purpose without the consent of the confider.
(iv) If an employee violates an employer’s confidential information rights without gaining economic value, the equitable damage award is only nominal damages.
The defendant violated the plaintiff’s IP rights and the Court granted the plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief. The Court further granted nominal money damages of $5,000 USD with an annual interest rate of 7% from the date of judgment till paid in full.