Saturday, June 13, 2009

Instead of Zen Dens, Starwood Builds an Espionage Case Against Hilton


Earlier this year, Hilton Hotels shipped eight boxes to Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Companies don't typically send much mail to their competitors, and Starwood's general counsel discovered something odd in the boxes: thousands of Starwood documents and electronic files.

Lawyers from Hilton, which is moving to Tysons Corner from Beverly Hills this summer, included a letter saying they found the material in the homes and offices of star employees the firm had recruited from Starwood. The material, according to the letter, had been reviewed and didn't seem all that sensitive. Hilton was returning it "in an abundance of caution."

Starwood's attorneys did not agree. They hit Hilton with a 91-page lawsuit alleging "the clearest imaginable case of corporate espionage," saying that "the sheer volume of theft is extraordinary, and may be unprecedented.


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