Fortinet sues Sophos over alleged employee poaching

The lawsuit follows the departure of several executives from Fortinet to Sophos

Fortinet, one of the biggest computer security vendors, is suing rival Sophos alleging it poached senior staff in breach of an agreement signed when a Fortinet executive jumped ship to Sophos earlier this year.

At the center of the case, filed on Monday in federal court in San Jose, California, is the departure of Michael Valentine , a top sales executive at Fortinet. He left the company in February this year for a similar job at Sophos.

According to Fortinet's complaint, Valentine was followed to Sophos by "numerous important Fortinet employees, including senior executives" in the two months after he left. Three left Fortinet in the same week and another followed several months later, the complaint says.

Fortinet alleges the employee moves were the direct result of solicitation by Valentine, something that was against an agreement he signed upon leaving Fortinet.

"I also agree that for twelve months from this date, I will not directly or indirectly solicit, induce, recruit or encourage any of [Fortinet's] employees to leave their employment," the agreement read in part, according to the court filing.

The complaint goes on to allege that the other executives went on to solicit additional Fortinet employees to leave the company in breach of similar agreements they signed.

Breach of contract is one of the five claims being asserted by Fortinet against Sophos and Valentine, who is named in the suit. Fortinet is also claiming intentional interference with a contract, related to the alleged inducements to the other former Fortinet staffers to attract others to Sophos.

The case also includes three patent infringement claims, over U.S. patents 7,698,744, "Secure system for following the execution of authorized computer program code"; and U.S. patents 8,069,487 and 8,195,938, "Cloud-based application whitelisting."

Fortinet is asking the court for a jury trial and damages.

Sophos could not immediately be reached for comment.

The case is 13-0581, Fortinet vs Sophos and Michael Valentine, at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags sophosbusiness issuespersonnelFortinetsecurityCivil lawsuitslegal

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?