HP accuses former executive of stealing trade secrets

Hewlett-Packard has sued a former sales executive, accusing him of stealing trade secrets from the company, prior to joining rival Oracle Corp.

The HP lawsuit, filed in a California court, claims that Adrian Jones, its former chief of enterprise sales for Asia, used a USB device to copy strategic data relating to its finance, sales and personnel, before joining Oracle.

HP has sought the return of all documents and also claimed damages. According to a company spokesman, the action was taken to prevent Jones from misusing the documents and to place the company in an unfair competitive disadvantage.

The company claims that it was about to sack Jones in February for having violated its code of conduct. Investigations revealed that Jones had an ''inappropriate relationship'' with a subordinate, whose pay was almost doubled by him. He also allegedly spent several thousand dollars in visiting the junior employee, despite there being no business purpose to justify the visits.

But before HP could initiate action against Jones, he allegedly stole crucial documents, resigned and joined Oracle.

An almost similar incident had happened last August, when Mark Hurd, HP's then former chief executive, quit and joined Oracle, after a probe revealed he had violated the code of conduct by having a relationship with a woman contractor and had provided inaccurate expense reports.