Copying the business model as a ground of the criminal liability

In December 2017, the Helsinki Court of Appeal handed down a judgment on the violation of a business secret. The case concerned two former employees and the former owner of Tarha-Tuote Ltd, who were sentenced to imprisonment. At the same time, they were ordered to pay substantial damages. Tarha-Tuote Ltd is an import and wholesale company.

According to the Court of Appeal, the former employees and the former owner copied Tarha-Tuote Ltd’s business to its most profitable core. The defendants had begun to import and sell the products that had the best demand and the best sales margin. The defendants had detailed information on the business of Tarha-Tuote Ltd.

The competitive advantage of Tarha-Tuote Ltd was based on the utilization of data related to the acquisition and sales of product chain. This information Tarha-Tuote Ltd has received as a result of years of development work. Tarha-Tuote Ltd has purchased information concerning supplier and customer relationships through several business trades. The respondents directly copied those acquisition and sales chains of Tarha-Tuote Ltd’s products, which accounted for almost half of the net sales of Tarha-Tuote Ltd and which the profitability of Tarha-Tuote Ltd’s sales was largely based on. The business of Tarha-Tuote Ltd has later been transferred to Schetelig Ltd’s ownership.

Pursuant to Chapter 30, Section 11 of the Criminal Code, a business secret refers to a business or professional secret that and entrepreneur keeps secret and the disclosure of which would be conductive to causing financial loss. The definition of a business secret also requires that the information holder has both the will and the interests to keep the information undisclosed and that information is factually kept secret.

The Helsinki Court of Appeal considered that the defendants were guilty of the violation of a business secret. They were ordered to compensate for the damage suffered by Schetelig Ltd as a result of the loss of the sales margin over two years. Aasa-Law successfully represented Tarha-Tuote Ltd in the Court of Appeal.

Aasa-Law assist with the issues that are related to the protection of business secrets, to the drawing up a non-disclosure agreement or possible misuse of business secret. We also have expertise in a situation where a person or a company is groundlessly suspected of the illegal use of the business secret.

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