HP hit with ‘trade secrets theft’ law suit

Hewlett-Packard has been hit with a law suit alleging that it ‘stole’ trade secrets relating to printer cartridges.

US imaging supplies firm Turbon International claims that HP offered potentially lucrative cartridge replacement contracts to the vendor in December 2008 in exchange for a "unique understanding" of how it makes money from used cartridges.

Turbon claims that once it had "methodically disclosed every intricate detail of its business", HP in January 2010 decided to cancel all plans to offer contracts to Turbon. The claimant accuses HP of then encouraging its customers to recycle their cartridges, rather than purchase replacements.

Philadelphia-based Turbon’s lawyers believe that HP went beyond appropriating their client’s insight for its own benefit, but also tried to put the company out of business.

"Hewlett-Packard has sought to effectively crush Turbon," said the complaint, filed at a federal court in New York. "Turbon’s business is in peril and any further actions by Hewlett-Packard to use or disclose Turbon’s confidential trade secret information would be fatal for Turbon and the remanufacturing industry as a whole."

HP has endured a difficult 2010 so far. Early in the year, the IT giant lost its long-running multimillion dollar court case against broadcaster BSkyB, while it has also faced numerous staff walk-outs and allegations of selling defective products in China. 

No spokesperson from HP was available to comment on Turbon’s allegations.

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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