Friday, September 08, 2006, 9/08/2006 04:59:00 PM

Trade Secret Concerns in Canada and Anton Piller Orders

By Todd
Okay, trade secrets fans, you heard it here first - the Canadian legal system occasionally authorizes holders of trade secrets in that country an "Anton Piller Order" and it is essentially a search warrant.

"If fraud does occur, there is an extremely powerful legal tool available to small businesses known as an Anton Piller Order (known as an APO). These civil search warrants allow one party to launch a surprise raid on the business premises or homes of people deemed to be infringing on civil rights, such as copyright.
Ira Nishisato, a Toronto-based commercial litigation lawyer with Borden Ladner Gervais, said the prevalence of information-based businesses, especially, has triggered a rise in court cases over information ownership.
While the first line of defence is usually drafted into work agreements, he said an Anton Piller Order can often turn into the last line of battle.
Described as the "nuclear weapon of civil defence," APOs are granted only in exceptional circumstances when a court agrees that civil rights are being infringed and that incriminating evidence could be destroyed if usual legal practices are followed.
"APOs are becoming increasingly common due to electronic elements," Mr. Nishisato said, noting: "So many businesses are Web-based, it's very easy for e-mails to be destroyed."
Though APOs are powerful, they're a two-edged sword. If a business files for an APO but the raid does not produce the expected evidence, the accused can argue the case in court and be granted damages."

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