Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) has sued former CEO Mark Hurd who has just joined rival firm Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) as a co-president and member of the board of directors.
Details of the suit are not available now.
“Mark Hurd agreed to and signed agreements designed to protect HP’s trade secrets and confidential information,” an HP spokeswoman told the Journal. “HP intends to enforce those agreements.” The Journal notes that the terms of the severance package he received from HP include a 24-month confidentiality agreement, but does not include a non-compete clause.
The suit’s argument is thin, but has one compelling aspect. It alleges that Hurd will have to violate HP trade secrets to do his new job at Oracle. This assumes that he cannot wall off what he learned about HP’s products, plans, and customers as he acts as president for Oracle. The suit, in essence, is about what his future behavior must be for him to be an effective Oracle executive. HP wants to convince the court that Hurd will damage it in the future. But a suit about what someone may do tomorrow may be difficult to prove.
Douglas A. McIntyre