Breaking News: Hurd Sued By HP Over Trade Secrets

In response to the news of Mark Hurd?s intention to join Oracle, HP today filed a civil complaint in the California Superior Court (County of Santa Clara) against Hurd. HP?s statement on the matter:

?Mark Hurd agreed to and signed agreements designed to protect HP’s trade secrets and confidential information. HP intends to enforce those agreements.?

HP is alleging that Hurd has trade secrets and can hurt the company?s business. Hurd resigned from HP last month following a sexual harassment probe. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison defended Hurd and then hired him on Monday.

In a blog post, HP stated:
?Despite being paid millions of dollars in cash, stock and stock options in exchange for Hurd?s agreements to protect HP?s trade secrets and confidential information during his employment and following his departure from his positions at HP as Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, and President, HP is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Hurd has put HP?s most valuable trade secrets and confidential information in peril.  Hurd accepted positions with Oracle Corporation (?Oracle?), a competitor of HP, yesterday as its President and as a member of its Board of Directors. In his new positions, Hurd will be in a situation in which he cannot perform his duties for Oracle without necessarily using and disclosing HP?s trade secrets and confidential information to others."

Paul Saffo offered this opinion on Hurd moving to Oracle, ?I think this story is about how HP ended up with a low-lustre board that was afraid to stand up to Hurd earlier and also unprepared to manage his succession after finally finding an excuse to fire him. My suspicion is that this is in no small part due to Sarbanes-Oxley and its impact on causing qualified candidates to flee from serving on public boards. Just compare the composition of HP’s board today to that before Carly [Fiorina] came on-board…? If Saffo is correct about the past slow actions of the HP Board, they jumped up today and took a legal step in the matter.

As we said yesterday, Silicon Valley’s high-profile soap opera has just given us another installment. We may have to wait a while for another chapter in this on-going drama. Trade Secret litigation can be a long drawn out process.