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What would you do if someone stole your IP?

(This blog is an extract from LinkedIn posts made in August and September 2020 and will be updated as posts are continued).

 

What if the President of a major Australian industry Association asked for your Intellectual Property (reports) for Association business and in good faith you provide your IP.

An hour later he emails back that he is going to use your IP for his business. He’s a consultant and a competitor. No mention of the Association now. See email below.

After he said that he intended to use your IP for his business, an obvious course of action would be to get him to sign a Statutory Declaration saying that he will not do this.

But he ignores all emails and phone calls for 6 weeks and refuses to sign the Stat Dec.  There are copious emails which validate this.

Then he changes the words in your Stat Dec to say that he WILL continue to use your IP.  The changed wording said “I will refer to these reports (your IP) in discussions with third parties”.

This showed a deliberate intent to do wrong and showed that he intended to steal the IP.

That is, the Association President says that he plans to use your IP for his company’s business (not the Association business) when talking to his clients.  And he said that he would do this in a Stat Dec!!  And “third parties” is plural.

Is this guy stupid to think that this is acceptable?

And where is the oversight and duty of care from the Association?   By their silence, they are condoning this unethical, unprofessional and illegal behaviour.

So you lodge a formal complaint with the Association, who ignore it and try to discredit you.

The Association mandates a “complaints process” and appoints a Complaints Chair to investigate, but the Chair doesn’t read the evidence and doesn’t talk to the witness. But he appoints an independent arbitrator to run a courtroom process where (as it turns out) there is no right of appeal.  Convenient right?

The Arbitrator says that “the circumstances are not in contention….” (see extract from letter attached) when the theft of the IP is definitely in contention. The Arbitrator says this BEFORE any hearings, BEFORE he received all statements and WITHOUT talking to the witness.

And the Association’s own rules do not allow arbitration anyhow, only mediation.

But the Complaints Chair insists that arbitration proceed even though it is not allowed, and the Arbitrator’s actions are that of a kangaroo court.

The President provides a statement 3 months after the complaint is lodged, saying it didn’t happen, nothing to see here!!

Even a 10-year old could see through this:

  • why does the President’s statement say the opposite of his emails when he tried to steal the IP?
  • why did the President produce a Stat Dec (refer above) saying that he intended to use the IP when it is the opposite of his statement?
  • why would the witness emails say the opposite of the statement?
  • why was the witness not interviewed?

The President’s statement is obviously false.  But the Complaint Chair does nothing, investigates nothing, and sets up an arbitration process to whitewash the outcome.

The Association says that it is the job of the “investigator” to investigate, but he refuses to read the evidence or interview the witness. And then he looses all credibility when he tries to “stitch up” the Arbitration process with a self-confessed biased arbitrator.

But the Complaints Chair continues to insist that Arbitration take place even though the Association rules dictate Mediation only, and (by this time) the Arbitrator has been thoroughly discredited?

Coincidentally it transpires that the lawyer for the Complaints Chair and the Arbitrator share the same office and same email address.

Is this cozy? Sound like a set-up? Sound like not a lot of independence going on here?

Particularly when the Arbitrator said “the circumstances are not in contention….” BEFORE any hearings, BEFORE he received all statements and WITHOUT talking to the witness.

But still the Complaints Chair insists that Arbitration proceed when only Mediation is allowed in the rules.  Kangaroo court happening here?

Finally, after 6 months the Complaints Chair agrees to mediation (by video) instead of arbitration (which is not allowed under the rules).

But the current President of the Association doesn’t bother to attend, leaving it to another member who is not a Director, and so can’t make a decision. That is, because the Association does not have a decision maker present at the mediation, the mediation is voided.

But the Association rep then goes on to make the astounding statement that:

  • he’s new to this and hasn’t read any of the documents
  • but he has evaluated the complaint
  • and found that there is no case to answer

Really, you could not make this up!!

Even a 10-year-old could see thru this.

This guy is the head of a state government department and he tries to blatantly whitewash the process.  Obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer!

But the real crime was that the Complaints Chair remained silent, and so condoned this attempted whitewash.

All of this was repeatedly documented by lawyers to the Association President who refused to act and did not respond to any correspondence.

The disgraced Arbitrator was requested several times by lawyers to provide an explanation as to how he came to his outrageous conclusion that “the circumstances are not in contention….” BEFORE any hearings, BEFORE he received all statements and WITHOUT talking to the witness.  He refused to respond to any correspondence as to how he came to this conclusion – could he see the future, maybe he was clairvoyant?

The Chair of the Complaints committee (whose lawyer shared an office with this disgraced Arbitrator) also refused to respond to correspondence to explain how this occurred.

But despite extensive documentation and evidence, still the Association continues to pursue the strategy to ignore everything and it will all just go away.

Unprofessional?  I’ll let the reader be the judge of that!

 

So the first LinkedIn post was lodged on 17 August 2020.

Surprisingly, the next day, the new CEO finally decided to speak to the witness, 20 months after the complaint was lodged and 3 months after he started.  Coincidence, right?

But now the witness “can’t recall” the events of April 2017 (over 3 years ago) but does confirm that the statements in the complaint are true.

Perhaps if the incompetent Association “investigator” had done his job 20 months previously, the memory of the witness would have been fresh.

Perhaps also if he got a written statement 20 months previously, he would have been acting professionally.

An ethical Board would have rectified this by now.

But still the Association does nothing.  The new CEO does nothing and the Directors do nothing.

Does the lack of action by the Directors confirm that their behaviour has been unethical and unprofessional?

Interestingly, most of the Directors have hidden their LinkedIn profile since these posts started on LinkedIn.  Does this indicate culpability or are they just cowards which shows more unethical behaviour.

Do the Directors even know what their responsibilities in this matter are?  Do they even care?

So, what does this say about the integrity and professionalism of the Association and their office holders?

  1. Does the (now) past President show that he has no integrity when he signed a Stat Dec which said that he was going to use stolen IP with his clients?
  2. Does the Chair of the complaints process have no integrity when he refused to investigate the complaint for 20 months and hires a partisan Arbitrator to “stitch up” the process so as to arrive at a foregone conclusion?
  3. Does the current Association President have no integrity when he could not be bothered to attend mediation and send someone in his place who could not make a decision, thereby voiding the mediation?
  4. Does the current Association President have no integrity when he ignores all letters from lawyers and requests for documentation and allows the Complaints Chair to run a transparently biased Arbitration process when he knows that it is against the rules and that the Arbitrator has been discredited?
  5. Do the Directors of the Association have no integrity when they have actively support these actions?
  6. Does the Association have no integrity when it actively protects and promotes the discredited past President on its website?

 

 

There is considerably more to come on this story / saga of ineptitude, incompetence, unprofessionalism and unethical behaviour by the Association and its officers.

Any comments please contact me as follows:

Bruce Douglas
bruce@corporategis.com.au
0418 780 322