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Exec slaps HP with pretexting and Dell hunting charges

While his ex-wife discloses HP’s TV sham

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Analysis Sex, lies and flat panel TVs. Dear lord, what has become of HP?

In November of 2005, HP struck out at a group of former executives. It alleged in a lawsuit that the employees used HP's intellectual property, research and funds to create a flat panel TV start-up on the side. At the same time, the workers advanced HP's own flat panel TV business, although with less efficiency than their own endeavor, according to HP.

HP remained clueless about the whole affair until the "ring-leader's" wife served the company with a subpoena during her divorce proceedings. She wanted to know what HP knew about byd:sign Inc., and HP became very curious.

One fantastic lawsuit, however, deserves another. "Ring-leader" Karl Kamb returned fire last week with a lawsuit of his own. And what a lawsuit it is.

Kamb's complaint leads with the "I learned it by watching you" charge familiar (video) to anyone growing up in the US during the 1980s.

In its lawsuit, HP knocked Kamb, the former VP of business and development in Japan, for violating the company's code of conduct and various non-dislcosure understandings.

So what? - Kamb asks, having watched HP implode in the public over the past few months as a result of its reporter and executive spy scandal. "HP expects each of its employees to exhibit 'loyalty' and 'a personal commitment' to the company," his lawsuit states. "HP, however, does not adhere to its own rules.

"For the past several months, HP has been embroiled in a scandal concerning its own ethical misdeeds. Headlines across the country have reported that HP engaged in improper attempts to obtain the telephone records of its own board members, its own employees and members of the media."

And then you get the kicker.

"Karl Kamb is a victim of HP's use of pretexting."

Kamb's lawsuit claims that HP and its "co-conspirators" used information such as his social security number to weasel phone records out of T-Mobile and Sprint.

Even more titillating, the lawsuit portrays HP as instructing Kamb to pay for intelligence about Dell's entry into the printer market. Kamb contacted a Japanese consumer electronics whiz who obtained the desired dirt on Dell and then asked HP to channel its payments through a third party, the lawsuit alleges.

HP, which characterized Kamb's counterclaim as "wholly without merit," can blame itself for opening the gateway to such lawsuits. The company's self-inflicted spy wound makes the pretexting and lack of ethics charges appealing to any party battling HP in court.

"You want to mess with me? Fine, we'll just rehash your spy issues in the press for a few months."

That said, a lengthy confrontation between HP and Kamb appeared inevitable, spy scandal or not, if you read the two sides' complaints.

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Next page: The HP Way

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