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HP VP charged for trying to pass on IBM trade secrets

'For Your Eyes Only'

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A former Hewlett-Packard vice president has been charged by US federal prosecutors for allegedly attempting to pass trade secrets from his previous employer, IBM Corp, to senior HP execs.

According to a US District Court indictment filed last Friday in San Jose, California, Atul Malhotra obtained “confidential” pricing details in March 2006.

Prosecutors said in the document that Malhotra was the director of IBM global printer sales between 1997 and 2006.

Just two months before he moved to HP, he “requested and received” a confidential memo named IBM Global Services, CC Calibration Metrics. Malhotra was instructed by a pricing coordinator for Armonk, New York-based IBM not to “distribute” the material due to the “sensitive nature” of the memo.

Malhotra joined HP as vice president in May 2006. Court records claim that he emailed the IBM document to an unnamed HP senior veep on or around 25 July 2006 with the subject line “For Your Eyes Only – confidential”. Two days later he sent the same email to another unidentified HP exec.

He has been charged by US federal prosecutors with “intent to convert a trade secret to the economic benefit of someone other than the owner [IBM]”.

Palo Alto-based HP said it took swift action against Malhotra's alleged trade secret misconduct.

"The activity with which Malhotra is charged was in direct violation of clear HP policies, including HP’s standards of business conduct," said the company in a statement.

"HP detected this activity, conducted an internal investigation, terminated Malhotra from his employment, and self-reported the activity to all appropriate enforcement agencies and to IBM. HP has cooperated fully with the government’s investigation."

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