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NetApp chucks sueball at upstart rival Nimble Storage, former staffers

Alleges employees and IP were snatched

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NetApp is suing hybrid array startup Nimble Storage along with three of its former employees, and has alleged in a filing that its rival has been poaching its staff.

In a complaint filed on Wednesday, NetApp alleges that Nimble "encouraged NetApp employees to join the company and to take NetApp confidential information with them in violation of their contractual obligations". It noted later in the filing that "approximately 15 per cent of Nimble’s total workforce is made up of former NetApp employees, including half of its executive staff".

The storage giant goes on to allege that three Nimble employees have breached contractual “post-employment restrictions” by allegedly disclosing confidential NetApp information to their new employers. The suit alleges "unfair competition" and "Intentional Interference With Contract And Contractual Relations" on the part of Nimble, among other things.

Nimble’s worldwide marketing veep, Dan Leary, refuted the claims, telling law magazine The Recorder that Nimble’s sense of ethics precluded such behaviour and that its competitive success was based on strong products and its ability to compete fairly in the marketplace.

"We will investigate these claims and vigorously defend any claims that are false and unsubstantiated,” Leary said.

The suit – NetApp, Inc v Nimble Storage Inc – 13-5058 (PDF) – has been filed in the US District Court for Northern California and comes days after EMC sued an employee who left it to join Pure Storage for allegedly disclosing confidential information (PDF).

Nimble recently filed for an IPO. Its CEO is Suresh Vasudevan, previously a NetApp exec. The suit claims that a total of 55 NetApp employees were hired by Nimble in the 12-month period ending July 2013. ®

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