Court Rejects Seagates Trade-Secret Suit

A court nixes drive maker Seagate Technology's attempt to prevent a former executive from joining rival Western Digital.

A bid by hard disk maker Seagate Technology LLC to prevent a former executive from joining rival Western Digital Corp. has been rebuffed.

In a U.S. district court in Hennepin, Minn., Judge Patricia Kerr Karasov on Wednesday denied Seagates request for an injunction barring ex-Seagate employee Pete Goglia from joining Western Digital, according to lawyers for the Lake Forest, Calif.-based WD.

Goglia was slated to guide WDs development of hard disk read-write heads. Seagate, of Scotts Valley, Calif., had asked the court to bar Goglia from joining WD, arguing that Goglias previous work at the company would make it inevitable that he would disclose some of Seagates trade secrets.

Judge Karasov ruled, however, that Goglia and WD had shown no intention of using Goglias employment to gain competitive information, and that a non-compete clause had never been part of Goglias contract.

/zimages/6/28571.gifSeagate showed strain with the results of its fiscal fourth quarter. But officials promised a raft of new products for the rest of the year. Read more here.

Seagate stumbled in its fiscal fourth quarter, but design wins with Creative Technology Ltd. and a raft of new products portend greater sales in the second half, the company said.

"Indeed, both Dr. Goglia and Western Digital have expressly assured Seagate that every effort will be made to avoid even inadvertent disclosure of trade secrets as evidenced by the redactions made in a letter sent to him by Seagate listing the specific areas of trade secrets he is not to disclose before showing it to his new employer," Judge Karasov said in her ruling.

"All parties agree that Dr. Goglia is a man of unquestioned integrity and that he is well aware of his duties to his former employer in protecting its trade secrets from use by or disclosure to his new employer," she continued.

Brian Ziel, a spokesman for Seagate, said the company had no comment in response to the decision.

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