Tech Firm Accuses HP of Stealing Trade Secrets

Tech Firm Accuses HP of Stealing Trade Secrets Jason Doiy Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto

SAN FRANCISCO — A Massachusetts-based technology manufacturer is demanding more than $100 million in a suit that accuses Hewlett-Packard Co. of stealing its idea for a portable computer monitor and then pricing the smaller company out of the market.

Mobile Monitor Technologies claims to have invented the world’s first full-sized portable monitor in 2009. According to the complaint filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Thursday, Mobile Monitor approached HP about a joint venture in 2011, and the two companies negotiated for four months.

“Now, less than three years later, HP dominates the portable monitor market having stolen MMT’s market-defining knowledge, strategies, and trade secrets, under the guise of partnership ‘negotiations,’ to develop its own identically sized portable monitor,” wrote Mobile Monitor’s attorney, Rony Sagy of Sagy Law Associates in San Francisco. Sagy also names PricewaterhouseCoopers as a defendant, accusing the global accounting firm of unfair competition, fraud and conspiring to position HP, its longtime business partner, as the top supplier of portable monitors to accounting firms.

Mobile Monitor specifically designed its monitor for the accounting industry, according to the complaint, and worked closely with PricewaterhouseCoopers to test early prototypes.

In late 2012, things were looking bright for the startup, the suit states, as the accounting firm made plans to order $40 million worth of portable monitors. But at the last minute, HP usurped the order by offering discounts with which Mobile Monitor couldn’t compete, the suit alleges.

According to the complaint, PricewaterhouseCoopers and HP had previously entered into a partnership, dubbed the “Agility Alliance,” in which they agreed to work together to design and deliver IT solutions. The result was Mobile Monitor, once an industry favorite, lost its edge attracting new customers, the suit states.

“It’s unfortunate that two big conglomerates found a way to combine their efforts to push out the competition,” Sagy said in an interview, “and to block innovation that was started by a small company that was just trying to work with them.” An HP spokeswoman said the company is reviewing the complaint and declined further comment.

Contact the reporter at mkendall@alm.com.

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