Charges have been dismissed in a lawsuit against SunEdison that was brought by SunPower, which had alleged that its former employees had committed offences when leaving join its rival, including computer misuse and fraud.
The pair are two of the biggest US-headquartered renewable energy companies and became locked in a dispute which spanned several global regions. The dispute covered multiple areas, including an accusation by SunPower that between 2011 and 2014, more than 20 employees left the company to join SunEdison and that in that timeframe “several” former SunPower workers contacted their ex-colleagues to encourage them to also join the rival company. In an illicit tactic sometimes seen in professional sports and known as “tapping up” a SunEdison executive was accused of directly attempting to encourage a SunPower worker to jump ship.
Workers were based in Italy, Spain and the US. According to US court documents, the Court of Milan took seriously enough a further allegation that confidential information was taken from SunPower computers and data storage devices before they left the company, that it ordered SunPower be allowed to search contents of computers, USBs, servers and other devices belonging to SunEdison’s Italian subsidiaries as well as the files and computers of seven former SunPower employees.
Yesterday SunEdison announced that the Northern District of California had dismissed charges against it and its employees that SunPower had brought under the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which according to SunEdison was its accuser’s “only basis for federal jurisdiction”. The court said SunPower had failed to adequately plead the claim.