The staff poaching row between database rivals Oracle and Informix took a new twist this week, when Informix toned down its allegations. The move came after the company could find no evidence that 10 former employees took or made use of trade secrets when they quit for Oracle.
Informix has amended its charges against its former staff, saving its most serious allegations for former Informix vice president Gary Kelley, who has been identified as the ringleader of the defectors.
The original complaint was filed by Informix after 11 of its engineers quit to move to Oracle. Informix originally wanted all 11 to be banned from using knowledge they acquired during their time with the company.
But the pre-trial discovery process has only uncovered one instance of confidential material being downloaded from a company PC, which took place three days before the resignations took place. That information was returned to Informix three weeks after the original complaint was filed.
As a result, the engineers are now accused of "threatened", not actual, misappropriation of secrets. But the amended complaint also accuses Kelley of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and unfair competition and seeks punitive damages against him. Oracle is also accused of threatened misappropriation and unfair competition.
The next hearing on the case is on 1 April, when Informix will ask for an injunction to prevent its former staff from using trade secrets until the case is resolved. At the moment, the defectors are gagged by a temporary restraining order.
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