Marketwire has sued rival PR Newswire for $25M in New York Supreme Court alleging an executive poaching campaign led by MW’s former chief technology officer, along with the alleged transfer of trade secrets, caused irreparable damage to the wire service.
The complaint (PDF) claims PR Newswire’s chief technology officer, Shoeb Ansari, who held the same title at Marketwire for two years, led a campaign to “induce critical Marketwire employees to breach their employment contracts and transfer to PR Newswire the confidential, and proprietary business information and trade secrets of Marketwire.”
Ansari joined PRN in July after a short stint as CTO at Intelemedia Communications. He was at Marketwire from 2008-10.
In addition to PRN and Ansari, Marketwire is suing three Canada-based PRN staffers, formerly of Marketwire -- David Mariai, Darren Tarachan and Vinh Ngo.
"PR Newswire has every legal right to hire these employees and it has no interest in any trade secrets Marketwire may have,” said Rachel Meranus, VP of marketing and communications for PRN. “Marketwire is turning to the courts in an attempt to prevent fair competition between the companies. We are confident that the court will agree this case has no merit."
Marketwire, the former Internet Wire now owned by a Canadian company of the same name, claims that PRN’s “lack of integration with modern social media and its limited familiarity with Marketwire’s capabilities and plans in the workflow management area evidently led it to covet the technology and know-how” of MW. That technology includes its Global Distribution System, Release Editor and Operations Desk systems, and a platform in development dubbed Go! Agency.
The complaint says that Ansari was terminated from his position on June 14, 2010 with $248,000 in severance and benefits as consideration for him signing a letter of separation that included non-compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure provisions.
Since joining PRN, the complaint alleges, he has solicited MW employees who worked for him, including the three defendants, representing half of MW’s development resources.
Another former MW exec who moved to PRN, Bhavesh Shah, was not named as a defendant in the complaint because her separation agreement set California as a venue for disputes, MW said.
MW seeks $1M each for breach of contract by the four employees, as well as $25M in damages for misappropriation of trade secrets by the defendants.
Judge Eileen Bransten set an Oct. 28 deadline for PRN to respond to MW’s request for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order from employing three of the defendants or soliciting MW-related information from any of the former staffers.