Cisco blasts sueball at 3 ex-employees it claims handed trade secrets over to same rival

Two high-level engineers and one managing director accused of stealing from Switchzilla

Cisco has filed a complaint against three former employees in the district court of Northern California, having accused them of stealing its intellectual property before jumping ship to a competitor.

Shortly after resigning from their jobs at Cisco this year, the three men joined a competitor "in the IP telephony, headset, video, and collaboration space", according to the lawsuit filed yesterday (PDF).

Switchzilla claims that two former high-level engineers in Cisco's Unified Communications Technology Group – Dr Wilson Chung and James He – downloaded thousands of highly confidential and proprietary documents.

Those docs related "to the design, manufacture, pricing, and market opportunities for both current and unreleased products immediately preceding their departure for a competitor of Cisco," the complaint says.

The third defendant, Jedd Williams, was a managing director in global collaboration sales at Cisco until October 2019. The firm has alleged that Williams misappropriated "Cisco Confidential Materials" relating to Cisco's sales forecasts and business development opportunities, including spending commitments and potential upsides.

The company claims he did so "by exfiltrating these documents from Cisco immediately before his resignation from Cisco to join the same competitor, and by storing a backup of his Cisco laptop on a home server", adding that those materials were stored on a server after he left Cisco and started to work at its competitor.

"Cisco also has uncovered evidence suggesting that Mr Williams was offered employment at the same competitor after proposing a go-to-market strategy he dubbed 'Project X,' which had been developed and refined at Cisco," the complaint reads.

The company claims the defendants' conduct "threatens to cause Cisco irreparable harm, potentially depriving Cisco of the opportunity to obtain a first-mover advantage in product development and go-to-market strategies, and depriving Cisco of business opportunities.

"There is also the threat that Cisco Confidential Materials will be disclosed by Defendants, which will destroy the value of Cisco's trade secret technology and business processes."

All three defendants each face two counts of violating the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the Defend Trade Secrets Act.

Cisco told The Reg: "As reflected in the allegations in the complaint, we took the unusual step of filing a legal case against former employees for [alleged] egregious intellectual property violations. Our goal is to protect our significant R&D investments and valuable intellectual property." ®

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