SAN FRANCISCO — After seeing at least 10 employees decamp for a rival, clean energy provider SolarCity Corp. shot back Monday with a suit accusing its competition of conspiring to steal confidential customer information and other trade secrets.
SolarCity’s attorneys at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati allege that Rohnert Park–based Soligent Distribution, which supplies solar energy equipment, recruited its employees “with the intent of obtaining SolarCity trade secret information.”
On Tuesday, a Soligent spokeswoman called the allegations meritless and said SolarCity has refused its “good faith efforts” to avoid litigation.
“While it is true that Soligent has hired certain former SolarCity employees, it has put in place measures to ensure that they have not taken and are not using any SolarCity information that could be construed as either confidential or trade secrets,” said spokeswoman Nancy Sterling in a prepared statement. “Soligent looks forward to addressing, and if necessary, fully adjudicating these meritless claims.”
Based in San Mateo, SolarCity installs and leases rooftop solar systems for homes, businesses and governments. It has grown rapidly since its IPO last December, spending almost $300 million to acquire Zep Solar and direct marketer Paramount Energy Solutions. Corporate teams from Wilson Sonsini advised on both deals.
According to the complaint filed in San Mateo County Superior Court, one of the employees recently hired by Soligent accessed SolarCity’s client database “following the termination of his employment for the purpose of obtaining” customer information. Others have approached SolarCity clients with whom they once worked seeking referral business, but asking the recipient to contact them at their personal email accounts or telephone numbers, according to the 10-page complaint signed by Wilson Sonsini partner Ulrico Rosales.
The suit alleges violations of California’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act and demands that Soligent return stolen “confidential” information. SolarCity also seeks a court order barring Soligent from “directly or indirectly” luring its employees and approaching its customers, as well as punitive damages and attorney fees.
Contact the reporter at email@example.com.