In the space of a fortnight, SunPower has launched a second lawsuit in a US federal court – this time against five former employees and SolarCity Corp, accusing them of corporate theft. All five employees moved to SolarCity at around the same time.
SunPower alleges Tom Leyden, Matt Giannini, Dan Leary, Felix Aguayo and Alice Cathcart used personal storage devices to take information to a competitor prior to leaving the company. On December 9, SunPower states Aguayo had accessed his company email after his last day on November 1, forwarding emails containing information, price lists and market reports to his personal email address in mid-November. This prompted an investigation of computers used by Aguayo and the other four, based on the proximity of their departure from SunPower.
The computer files contained contracts, proposals, price quotes, market analysis and in one case, information about customers accounting for more than US$100 million in SunPower sales throughout 2011, according to the SunPower lawsuit.
A written complaint, filed early this week in federal court for the Northern District of California, said, “SolarCity knowingly accepted these stolen computer files containing SunPower confidential information and non-confidential proprietary information. SolarCity takes trade secret issues very seriously and we will ensure that we act in accordance with the law.”
SolarCity responded saying that SunPower considers SolarCity a threat. “Over the past few months, following its acquisition by a foreign oil company, a number of SunPower's best salespeople decided to join SolarCity.”
The case is SunPower Corp v. SolarCity Corp et al. in the US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, case no. 12-cv-00694.