Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hilton Paid Starwood $75 Million in Espionage Settlement

Hilton Worldwide Inc. paid $75 million last year to Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide as part of a settlement agreement in a corporate-espionage lawsuit, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In its earnings statement Thursday, Starwood said it received the money in a corporate settlement in December but didn't identify Hilton. Still, the legal settlement with Hilton was the only one Starwood reached that month.

Both parties reported last year that they had settled the lawsuit but didn't disclose the financial terms of the agreement.

The settlement put to an end a dispute that had rattled the normally staid hotel world. In 2009, Starwood filed a suit that accused Hilton officials of stealing confidential Starwood documents to develop a new boutique-style chain that would appeal to modern tastes.

Terms of the settlement continue a court order that Hilton cease development of its Denizen lifestyle chain and can't start developing a similar brand for two years.

Hilton also must allow a court-appointed monitor to review its marketing and branding materials to assure the company doesn't benefit from the information obtained from Starwood documents.

In December, Hilton Chief Executive Chris Nassetta said in a statement the company is "committed to fair, ethical and robust competition in the marketplace."


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