Short answer: no.
Longer answer: pfffft, no.
A pizza franchisor tried to prevent a former franchisee from competing against it and, in the short term at least, failed spectacularly.
For those sensible enough to not be lawyers, a quick note about this particular court process. The franchisor sought an interlocutory injunction to stop a raft of defendants from doing certain things. Interlocutory injunctions are there to stop further damage being done in between now and an eventual court decision. The court doesn’t decide the whole case at this interlocutory injunction. Instead, there are two questions:
- Is there a serious question to be tried? (a.k.a. is the case hopeless? Is there are argument?)
- Where does the balance of convenience lie? (will one side or the other get shafted by granting or not granting the injunction)
On with the actual case. The franchisor runs Pizza Capers in Queensland and a little bit of New South Wales. The franchisor gave the ex-franchisee the boot. The ex-franchisee (at least its directors) now operate a Subway store and a pizza shop called Pizza Obsession in Port Macquarie.
The franchisor argued breach of confidentiality – and that’s the main reason this article was written. On the evidence, any manuals and procedures were sent back or, at worst, no longer in the hands of the various defendants. No foul there.
The franchisor claimed that the pizza menu for Pizza Capers was itself confidential information. You know, secret stuff which no one else could know.
“… Counsel for the Plaintiff has had some difficulty in identifying precisely what is confidential about the menu. In my view, the reason for this is because the menu is not confidential. The menu is open to the public via the internet or perhaps printed matter, and it is there for the very good purpose of inviting and indeed enticing the public to purchase a Pizza Capers’ pizzas.”
The injunction was refused.