Earlier this year, the owner of online fashion brand In The Style, Adam Frisby, successfully defended an action brought against him by Paul Clement. Back in 2021 Mr Clement accused Mr Frisby of stealing the name and concept of the online fashion platform and decided to bring claim which alleging unlawful misuse of confidential information, breach of confidence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of equitable and contractual obligations.
Mr Clement claimed that he came up with the original idea for the company in 2013 and at the time had invested a little over £10,000 into purchasing stock and creating the website. He went on to claim that he informed Mr Frisby of his plans for the business, fully disclosing the business plan which included his ideas for advertisement, promotions and marketing, and the identity of potential suppliers because he’d wanted to enlist Mr Frisby’s help in developing it further and testing his plans.
Mr Clement claimed that Mr Frisby took advantage of this information and used it to set up his own company, after the had Mr Clement that the business plan had no future.
Mr Frisby naturally denied all the allegations made by Mr Clement, describing them as fraudulent and could only surmise that the motivation for making these claims was for financial reward after the company floated in 2020 valuing it in excess of £100m. As a result, Mr Clement claimed that Mr Frisby owed him £125m.
Mr Frisby went on to state that he created the brand without any input or involvement of Mr Clement, the idea was born by himself out of his bedroom with £1000 redundancy money.
However, after 2 years in litigation the High Court in Manchester dismissed all of Clements’ claims following a five-day trial. In a written judgment made public in February, the Judge found that Mr Clement had no involvement in the idea or development of In The Style. Mr Clement now faces a substantial six figure legal costs bill.
The best way to protect yourself in matters like this is to ensure that communication in early business development (and in any development) is clearly marked as confidential and better still ensure that non-disclosure agreements are in place. Keep dated records of when key parts in your development plan have been achieved, and how they were achieved. This will significantly assist in any potential problems that can arise as Mr Frisby found out, particularly when you might otherwise only be relying upon witness evidence from several years earlier who will undoubtedly have difficulties recollecting key facts and events.
If you have any intellectual property questions, or want to ensure you have adequate protections in place for your business plan, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Briffa is always on hand to help with all things IP. We can be reached at email@example.com or on 0207 096 2779 for a free consultation.
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