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Cybereason Accuses Ex-Leader Of Taking Trade Secrets To SentinelOne

Cybereason claims former Director of Product Management Jonathan Joseph Shelmerdine took company documents off his Cybereason-issued laptop and tried to cover his tracks before leaving for SentinelOne last month.

Cybereason has sued its former top product leader in an effort to block him from taking the company’s “most sensitive commercial secrets” to rival SentinelOne.

The Boston-based cybersecurity vendor has accused former Director of Product Management Jonathan Joseph Shelmerdine of taking company documents off his Cybereason-issued laptop last month before leaving for a senior product management position at SentinelOne. Shelmerdine tried to cover his tracks by wiping the laptop to prevent Cybereason from conducting a forensic investigation, the firm alleges.

“Given Shelmerdine’s intimate knowledge of Cybereason’s products, strategies, strengths, roadmap, and weaknesses, and his apparent retention of proprietary Cybereason documents and information, his departure for a competitor in violation of his employment agreement poses a grave risk to Cybereason’s future,” the company wrote in an April 27 filing with the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.

[Related: Endpoint Protection Vendor SentinelOne Raises $200 Million, Eyes IPO]

Cybereason sued Shelmerdine in Israeli court on April 19 in hopes of preventing him from working for SentinelOne during the period his non-compete clause is in effect. Eight days later, Cybereason sought to issue a subpoena to Shelmerdine in the United States to produce documents and testimony that can be used in the Israeli legal proceedings.

Cybereason declined to comment, while SentinelOne, Shelmerdine and Shelmerdine’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from CRN. In the Israeli court filing, Cybereason identified fellow endpoint security firms SentinelOne and CrowdStrike as its two “direct and major competitors.” Neither SentinelOne nor CrowdStrike was named as a defendant in either the Israeli or American court filings.

Shelmerdine started at Cybereason in January 2017 as a product manager and moved into the director of product management role in 2019, where Cybereason said he was a fundamental part of some of the company’s most sensitive analyses and decisions. Specifically, Cybereason said Shelmerdine has played a central role with respect to the most important technology in the company’s pipeline.

Shelmerdine was one of less than 10 research leaders engaged over the last two years in sensitive efforts to develop a new revolutionary technology that Cybereason claims will disrupt its market and render products from competitors like SentinelOne obsolete. The company said it expects to commercialize the technology and launch related products in approximately 12 months.

“In the six months prior to his resignation, Shelmerdine was deeply involved in leading the project, and he is intimately familiar with the project’s every detail,” Cybereason wrote in an April 27 court filing.

Cybereason said it had tasked Shelmerdine with positioning and commercializing the new technology, including developing functionalities, capabilities, applications and business cases for a new portfolio of products that the company is contemplating launching. Shelmerdine had a principal and pivotal role in directing the strategy of Cybereason’s next generation of technology and products, the company said.

Shelmerdine verbally informed Cybereason that he intended to leave the company on March 31 after receiving a bonus of $22,695, and then on April 3 announced his resignation in writing as well as his intent to work for SentinelOne. Cybereason said it was “shocked” when it learned of Shelmerdine’s plans, and the company’s CEO, CTO and CSO all attempted to dissuade him from moving to SentinelOne.

Cybereason said it made two counteroffers to Shelmerdine, including an appointment to a VP role and matching the “very generous” terms of employment offered by SentinelOne. Alternatively, Cybereason said it offered to pay Shelmerdine four months’ salary – some $68,000 – during which time the company would help Shelmerdine find employment at a cybersecurity company that isn’t a direct competitor.

But Cybereason said Shelmerdine refused both offers without providing any reasonable explanation.

“On information and belief, Shelmerdine has started a senior product management job at SentinelOne,” Cybereason wrote in an April 27 court filing. “This is of serious concern, particularly given that SentinelOne is a direct competitor of Cybereason, and SentinelOne targets many of the same customers with similar products using similar sales channels.”

Within days of his departure, Cybereason alleges that Shelmerdine installed a thumb drive into his company-issued laptop and copied documents to it. Then, in violation of company policy, Shelmerdine is accused of trying to wipe the laptop using software called “Clean My Mac,” which is meant to prevent Cybereason from conducting any forensic investigation and hide any theft of property and trade secrets.

Cybereason said it sent Shelmerdine a cease-and-desist letter on April 8 to protect its intellectual property, economic prospects and competitive position. On April 17, Shelmerdine responded with a denial of any wrongdoing as well as a denial of having access to any of Cybereason’s proprietary information, according to the company.

Two days later, Cybereason said it initiated litigation against Shelmerdine in Israel.

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