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Myth Busters: Who owns the information/contact lists on our employees’ LinkedIn accounts?

A number of cases are being brought both in the UK and abroad

The question of who owns contact lists and other information put on an individual’s LinkedIn profile is starting to cause particular concern for a number of businesses – particularly those who rely on close connections and developing good contacts.

The starting point is that if a contact list is developed and used for business purposes by the employee in the course of his employment, the employer is regarded as the maker of the list (unless the parties have agreed otherwise).

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With regard to online profiles there is a distinction between ownership of the account and of the information contained within it. The employee will own his profile but what about information about clients, products or other business information? We do not have any decided cases on this point, but a number of cases are being brought both in the UK and abroad which hopefully will provide some clarity.

The best way to address potential problems and ownership of contact lists is to have a coherent policy which makes it clear that the business owns its confidential information, intellectual property and clients and business contacts.

Well drafted restrictive covenants will also assist employers to protect this type of information.

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