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Cisco Sues Ex-Employees Over Alleged Trade Secrets Theft

Robert Burnson

(Bloomberg) -- Cisco Systems Inc. sued three former senior employees whom it accused of stealing thousands of files containing confidential information when they defected to a competitor.

Shortly after resigning their jobs at Cisco this year, the three men joined an unidentified company that competes “in the IP telephony, headset, video, and collaboration space,” according to the complaint.

Cisco claims that Wilson Chung, who was one of its principal engineers, downloaded more than 3,000 internal documents containing trade secrets, including information about the company’s contributions to 5G technology and its design specification for a video-conferencing prototype, before he left in February.

Chung is accused of recruiting another Cisco engineer, James He, to join the competitor. At that point, He started photographing confidential Cisco documents with his iPhone and copying other company records and emails, according to the complaint filed Monday in federal court in San Jose, California.

Cisco said that Jedd Williams, who was one of its sales executives, sought employment with the same competitor, telling one of its executives in an email that he could “hit the ground running” using “a play I drove VERY successfully at Cisco ... and a play that I’d like to repeat again.”

In mid-October, on the same day he uploaded 12 Cisco sales forecasting spreadsheets, he announced he was leaving the company to work at his church and focus on personal issues, according to the complaint. “Mr. Williams joined the same competitor shortly thereafter.”

LinkedIn profiles for men with the same names show that all three, after long stints at Cisco, now work at San Jose-based Poly, a developer of video, voice and content collaboration and communication technology.

Poly declined to comment. Cisco didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The case is Cisco Systems Inc. v. Chung, 19-cv-07562, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

(Updates with allegations in third paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Burnson in San Francisco at rburnson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter Blumberg, Joe Schneider

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