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Instead of Zen Dens, Starwood Builds an Espionage Case Against Hilton




Instead of Zen Dens, Starwood Builds an Espionage Case Against Hilton
Instead of Zen Dens, Starwood Builds an Espionage Case Against Hilton



http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/12/AR2009061204068.html 

By Michael S. Rosenwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 13, 2009

Earlier this year, Hilton Hotels shipped eight boxes to Starwood Hotels 
and Resorts. Companies don't typically send much mail to their 
competitors, and Starwood's general counsel discovered something odd in 
the boxes: thousands of Starwood documents and electronic files.

Lawyers from Hilton, which is moving to Tysons Corner from Beverly Hills 
this summer, included a letter saying they found the material in the 
homes and offices of star employees the firm had recruited from 
Starwood. The material, according to the letter, had been reviewed and 
didn't seem all that sensitive. Hilton was returning it "in an abundance 
of caution."

Starwood's attorneys did not agree. They hit Hilton with a 91-page 
lawsuit alleging "the clearest imaginable case of corporate espionage," 
saying that "the sheer volume of theft is extraordinary, and may be 
unprecedented." The files included Starwood's strategic development 
plans and materials for a boutique hotel using the words "zen den." 
Hilton allegedly drew from the material, apparently using a little 
wordplay, in developing a hip new boutique hotel called Denizen.

"This complaint reads more like a novel," said Jeff Riffer, a Los 
Angeles attorney and former chair of the American Bar Association's 
trade secrets subcommittee. "It's pretty unusual that senior executives 
at one company are going to take a lot of documents and go to a 
competitor, where they appear to set up the same idea."

[...]


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