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EMC lobs sueball at Pure, tells court: Look what they told EL REG

Accuses rival of poaching staff, customers and trade secrets in complaint

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Just days before it launches its XtremIO flash array, EMC is suing flash array startup Pure Storage for allegedly improperly recruiting EMC staff, and also accuses it of encouraging ex-EMCers to use its confidential data – and it has cited The Register in its complaint.

It has also accused Pure of interference with its business relationships, alleging it had "directed Former Employees' use of EMC Confidential Information in soliciting customers".

Pure Storage sells its FlashArray product to speed up networked array data access and has identified EMC, with its disk drive based VNX and VMAX arrays, as its primary competitor.

Hopkinton-based EMC has filed its suit in Massachusetts District Court PDF, demanding a jury trial and “double, treble and/or punitive damages” if judgment is found in its favour.

The lawsuit essentially accuses Pure of recruiting "valuable" "high-impact" EMC sales staff to sell its products – allegedly using confidential information which EMC claims was "stolen" from it contrary to clauses in its former employees' Key Employee Agreements (KEAs).

It's not holding back, either. EMC alleges in the filing:

Dozens of former EMC employees have joined Pure Storage and stolen tens of thousands of pages of proprietary, highly confidential and competitively sensitive EMC materials – including highly specific information about EMC’s directly competing flash storage solution, EMC’s strategies to implement and sell that solution, and targeted, detailed information about EMC’s customers and their buying patterns.

It says 44 of its employees have joined Pure since August 2011 and describes how it believes certain employees removed confidential data, alleging that in two cases they had used EMC's own file synchronisation and share product, Syncplicity – a product designed as a secure Dropbox-style sync-'n'-share.

EMC details evidence that Pure sees EMC as its main competition, which is where El Reg comes in. The filing cites quotes given to The Register by Pure's President David Hatfield.

EMC alleges in the complaint:

Joe Tucci’s company states it has previously “initiated litigation against not fewer than six of its former employees, and obtained injunctions or Court Orders requiring various of those employees to return misappropriated confidential and proprietary EMC Property.”

The suit against former staffer Chad Johnson came to light just over a week ago.

EMC names 32 ex-employees, mostly sales reps, who have joined Pure in its suit.

Pure CEO: 'I am wholly confident that Pure Storage and all of our employees have been behaving ethically'

Pure Storage CEO Scott Dietzen has blogged about this, saying: "We at Pure believe there is no merit whatsoever to any of these complaints. We have the resources ... and intend to defend ourselves vigorously against these allegations."

He adds: "We believe in employee freedom and in hiring the very best, but at the same time, we have a strong policy against the use of any third party confidential information; that is, we believe all employees— including our own and those of our competitors — should be free to follow their dreams and support their families as they see fit, provided they honor their lawful commitments and safeguard IP from prior employers."

Dietzen points out: "At Pure we don’t put non-compete clauses in our employee agreements – we simply don’t believe in them."

He adds this: "Based upon our present understanding, I am wholly confident that Pure Storage and all of our employees have been behaving ethically, and that these charges will be proven to be without merit."

Dietzen seems in little doubt that EMC's suit is timed to help its XtremIO flash array product launch, expected on 14 November.

We'll keep you posted. ®

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