In the court filings Softchoice alleged that En Pointe engaged in a scheme to "misappropriate Softchoice’s confidential information, trade secrets, and customer relationships and use them to injure Softchoice." As part of a campaign to injure Softchoice’s business, En Pointe recruited and hired Softchoice sales personnel with the expectation of using confidential Softchoice data, the suits state.
"...[O]ver the past several years En Pointe has relied on a ’business model’ of raiding competitors in general, and plaintiff Softchoice in particular, of experienced sales representatives," the suits state. "That model has permitted En Pointe to reap the benefits of an experienced, knowledgeable sales force without making the investment in time and resources required to develop such a sales force."
Individual lawsuits are pending against former employees for breach of contract agreements in Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina and Virginia. En Pointe has raided Softchoice personnel a total of 22 times over the last two years.
The motions filed, which seek to add En Pointe as a defendant to cases that currently name several former Softchoice employees as defendants, were filed in Hennepin County District Court (Minneapolis) and in the Circuit Court for the City of Norfolk, Va.
"Softchoice believes that competition in the information technology industry benefits customers, but that competition must be fair and legal," said Kirsten Thompson, General Counsel of Softchoice Corporation. "Our goal is to put a stop to this illegal behavior and force En Pointe to obey federal and state laws."
"Softchoice prides itself on its hard-earned reputation for ethical behavior and corporate responsibility," Thompson added. "We take seriously the confidential information shared with us by our customers and vendors, and will take every legal action available to us to protect the confidential information entrusted to us and the high-level of confidence we have earned in the marketplace."
In addition to seeking monetary damages from En Pointe, the actions seek a permanent injunction against former Softchoice employees who violated the terms and conditions of their contracts and confidentiality agreements with Softchoice when they solicited Softchoice customers to do business with En Pointe. Softchoice has won injunctions and temporary restraining orders against a number of former employees now working for En Pointe in Minnesota, Virginia and Missouri and also has actions pending in North Carolina and Nebraska.
The suits note that En Pointe, while encouraging Softchoice employees to ignore their non-solicitation agreements, has agreements in place with it own employees that ban such activity: "Unable to create sufficient revenue through organic growth of its business, En Pointe has chosen to increase its revenue by stealing the very kind of confidential business relationships it forbids its own employees even to discuss with others." [June 26, 2008]
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