Firm granted rare order

2016-09-14 09:31
Darryl Taylor, the owner of Hilton firm Accpick, has successfully applied for an Anton Piller order to prevent their locally developed information technology from being stolen.

Darryl Taylor, the owner of Hilton firm Accpick, has successfully applied for an Anton Piller order to prevent their locally developed information technology from being stolen. (Ian Carbutt)

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The homes and businesses of some ex-employees of Hilton-based automotive software company Accpick Automotive Solutions were raided simultaneously recently in terms of a rarely granted Anton Piller court order.

The matter was heard in open court in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday, even though the actual court order was made, in camera, on August 23, court documents show.

The order provides the right to search premises and seize evidence without prior warning.

The last time the Pietermaritzburg high court granted such an order is believed to have been at least 13 years ago.

At issue was the alleged copying of Accpick’s intellectual property, including software developed by the company over 28 years, and selling that property at a lower price.

The outcome of the analysis of the electronic equipment seized is not yet known.

Accpick’s attorney Oliver Bernhard said the court order was significant in that it shows the court recognises copyright infringement as a matter of law, and that one does not necessarily need to rely on copyright registration for protection.

“The search and seizures were co-ordinated to happen at exactly 10 am … and the respondents’ offices and homes were raided simultaneously. This is one of the largest operations of its kind … the build-up took many months of hard work,” said Accpick owner Darryl Taylor, who had applied for the court order.

The search was conducted by the sheriffs of the court along with experienced independent IT specialists using high-tech software, he said.

They searched, inspected and removed for testing all the electronic equipment — including computers, servers, laptops and USB drives — at the ex-employees’ business addresses and homes.

The six respondents in the case listed in the court documents are Tower Investments, Michael Graham, Madelyn Janse van Rensburg, Wesley Naidoo, Christelle van Rensburg and Raveshnee Naidoo.

Taylor said Accpick’s intellectual property was unique, and if one were to search the servers of the company, the software would be like a fingerprint is to a human.

“Our directory structure and source code programs and user manuals have been carefully written in-house by Accpick experts using our proprietary software,” he said.

Judge Sharmaine Balton yesterday adjourned the proceedings until September 26, while the parties would be granted access to the reports of the sheriffs and IT experts on the electronic hardware and software confiscated during the raids.

The application was, on Tuesday, confirmed in its entirety barring costs, which has been held over for a trial or interdict court, court documents show.

• The Anton Piller order takes its name from the 1976 UK case of Anton Piller KG vs Manufacturing Processes, which dealt with the alleged theft of trade secrets.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  it raid

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