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Monday, March 24, 2008

Ohio Tech Giant NCR Corp. Sues Hewlett Packard Hire: Departed Exec Said To Leave With Secrets

DAYTON (TDB) -- NCR Corp. is seeking a preliminary injunction in Dayton federal court this week to bar a former vice president from spilling trade secrets to her new employer, Palo Alto-based tech giant Hewlett Packard. At issue are sensitive documents that NCR contends were downloaded off its computer system when the exec changed jobs. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose earlier this month granted a temporary restraining order that restricts some business-related activities by former NCR exec Diane Warner. The TRO says:

"Warner is immediately restrained and enjoined from working for Hewlett Packard Company ('HP') in any position that involves the development, manufacture, marketing, sale, advertising or servicing of any product, process, system or service manufactured, sold, services or otherwise provided by NCR to its customers upon which Warner worked or in which she participated during the last two yeas of her NCR employment."

Court records show that Warner, who lives in North Carolina, was a senior sales manager for NCR in the company's financial services group. She sold ATM-related products to banks throughout the South, including Wachovia Corp and SunTrust Banks Inc. NCR said Warner helped bring in $19 million worth of business from Wachovia in 2006 "including 80% of Wachovia's total ATM spend for the year." She became vice president of business development and gained expanded responsibilities.

NCR contends she was "even more involved in NCR's business strategies and analyses, such as NCR's perceived strengths and weaknesses in various business segments. This involvement focused not just on the financial solutions division, but on other market segments as well. For example, she was involved in NCR's sales and marketing efforts directed toward the U.S. Postal Service (on which NCR directly competed with HP) and from gaming industry components, such as MGM Grand Casino."

The lawsuit is NCR v. Diane Warner, Case No. 3:08-CV-00074 Southern
District of Ohio. According to NCR, Warner used company e-mails to discuss her job at HP with HP officials, and she also took information off a company computer. She has been ordered to return any material. NCR alleged that she "copied thousands of files from her NCR computer to several different removable storage devices." Warner, however, may have been trying to open up space on her own computer. NCR contends:

"On December 26, 2007, Warner, for the first time, attached a Maxtor external hard drive to her NCR computer and copied more than 3,000 NCR files from her computer to the external hard drive. Many of these files contained NCR's proprietary information, including files related to Wachovia, NCR's financial services division, and NCR's business practices and strategies. For example, more than 100 of these files contained sensitive Wachovia-related information. Specifically, the filed entitled 'wachoviacallplantjonwittermay' detailed NCR's busines strategies for its Wachovia account strategies and other sensitive information. she also downloaded many files related to other customers. For example, the file entitled 'HSBbidreview2007' like the other bid review files she copied, contained NCR's discount rate, net rate, and other sensitive pricing information."

The TRO issued by the federal court in Dayton required the ex-NCR vice president to return all confidential data. The preliminary injunction hearing is supposed to the held today.


  1. This could be part of a long term irritation between the two companies. HP's current CEO, Mark Hurd, was with NCR for 25 years before taking the HP job in 2005. There was probably an agreement not to raid NCR talent for a certain length of time.

  2. LargeBill --

    I did not remember the Hurd/NCR connection. Excellent catch.
    By the way, I need to change the blogroll here. I see you are operating a new??? site.

  3. Bill S.,

    Yes, I'm posting at new digs. Blogger shut down my old site and by the time they finally answered my email I had started the new one.