Published on February 14th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan4
Yikes, SunPower Sues SolarCity
Two of the largest and most successful solar power companies in the world are getting into a scuffle now, news broke today. SunPower, a solar panel efficiency world record holder and the most popular solar panel company in California last time I checked, is suing SolarCity, the clear leader in residential solar installations in the U.S.
What’s the lawsuit over? Well, SunPower asserts that five ex-SunPower employees who now work for SolarCity stole confidential information from SunPower, committing computer fraud. Additionally, it asserts that SolarCity is aware of this and “knowingly” accepted the information.
SunPower’s temporary restraining order shows that the defendants in this case are SolarCity, Tom Leyden, Matt Giannini, Dan Leary, Felix Aguayo, and Alice Cathcart.
“Aguayo had accessed his company email account after he was terminated [and] had forwarded customer information, price lists, and market reports to his personal email address on or about November 18, 2011,” the legal document claims.
“The forensic analysis established that shortly before leaving SunPower, defendants Leyden, Giannini, Leary, Aguayo, and Cathcart connected personal USB devices and used them to steal tens-of-thousands of computer files containing SunPower confidential information and non-confidential proprietary information,” it also states. “These files included at least quotes, deals, proposals, contracts, and files containing forecast analysis, market analysis, and information downloaded from the www.salesforce.com database.”
This all occurred on defendants’ last days of work at SunPower.
Going on: “Leyden also copied highly confidential data from the SunPower database…the data included information about major SunPower customers accounting for $100 million of sales throughout 2011…this information allowed Leyden to recruit SunPower employees, including Leary, Aguayo, and Cathcart.”
The lawsuit asserts that Leyden actively recruited the other SunPower employees to work for SolarCity as the startup engaged in a big commercial sales push.
“In addition to civil damages and injunctive relief, SunPower also wants to hold the ex-employees criminally liable for violating a California law prohibiting unauthorized computer data access and fraud.”
Check out the entire legal complaint for more.
SolarCity actually looked set for an IPO within weeks, a story on Reuters reported this month, something we were set to cover. Looks like that may be a bit delayed.