EMC this week filed a lawsuit against startup flash storage vendor Pure Storage, alleging that Pure Storage hatched a "deliberate scheme" to acquire EMC intellectual property by hiring 44 of its former employees.
In the lawsuit, which was filed Monday at the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts and can be read on the Scribd website, EMC alleges that at least 44 former EMC engineers and sales people left the company "under suspicious circumstances" to join Mountain View, Calif.-based Pure Storage since August of 2011.
Those employees, many of whom EMC described as "among the highest performing EMC professionals in their positions," had signed "key employee agreements" that EMC said included clauses to not disclose confidential information about EMC products or customers, to return such confidential information to EMC upon leaving the company, and to not solicit other EMC employees to work for a competitor, according to the lawsuit.
EMC in the lawsuit also said it has already initiated legal action against six former employees, and that in "numerous instances, these former employees returned misappropriated EMC materials only after EMC was compelled to initiate litigation and in several instances only pursuant to Court direction."
It is no surprise that EMC would initiate such a lawsuit, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and Pure Storage partner.
"I think Pure is making headway against EMC, and taking deals," Woodall said.
Pure Storage has hired people from EMC, NetApp and other storage vendors, Woodall said. "People like working for hot startups," he said. "EMC grabbing other vendors' employees? I say, yeah, so? It tells me Pure is winning, and shows that Pure is on EMC's radar."
Woodall said one unusual aspect of the lawsuit is the fact that EMC is calling out Pure Storage for hiring 44 EMC people.
"Maybe you don't want to do that," he said. "Why highlight the fact that so many people are leaving EMC for a competitor. By highlighting this, people will question what is happening at EMC. Those people are probably not leaving for the money. They are looking to join a winner."
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