Autism charity to appeal against decision in patent court case

Spectrum accused Green Light PBS staff of using confidential information to set up the company - but the Patents County Court in London's Rolls Building said this was 'unsupported speculation'

Spectrum and Green Light PBS
Spectrum and Green Light PBS

An autism charity that lost a patent court case it brought against a rival provider has said it will appeal against the decision.

Spectrum, which runs specialist homes in Devon and Cornwall, claimed that three former staff members and their new employer, Green Light PBS, were in breach of confidence for using confidential financial information, knowledge of its email system and employees' names and addresses to help them set up the new company.

It also accused Green Light of using information relating to rent paid for leases, the identity of its service users and unidentified confidential information in an approach to Cornwall County Council.

The case was struck out at the Patents County Court at the Rolls Building in London on 24 September by Recorder Douglas Campbell, who said that Spectrum’s arguments represented nothing more than "unsupported speculation".

In a statement released yesterday, Spectrum said its trustees still believed that confidential information was used for commercial gain by Green Light.

"The trustees do not apologise for taking the action they did in order to protect the very basis of the charity," it said. "They have no objection to fair competition; in fact, they welcome it. However, they do object when they consider that it is unfair and damaging to their organisation.

"The trustees note that Recorder Campbell gave permission to appeal his decision and they have now instructed their solicitor to do so."

Green Light has spent more than £150,000 on legal costs fighting the case, which it could try to reclaim from the charity.

Jo Pyrah, managing director of Green Light, said in a statement that the recorder’s judgment was "a comprehensive rebuke of Spectrum’s conduct of the proceedings" that found Spectrum had abused the court process and the proceedings had no real prospect of succeeding. 

"Any decision to appeal the court’s findings, whether on the limited grounds upon which they have been given permission or otherwise, is a matter for Spectrum," said Pyrah. "We believe that any appeal is bound to fail."

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