Given that it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve heard anything in the Hilton Worldwide corporate espionage case (and in a high-profile case such as this, a couple weeks can be a lifetime for us journalists), I thought I’d give a call to attorney Jennifer L. Achilles just to find out where things stand.
Read, “Starwood: Top Hilton execs knew about corporate espionage.”
Achilles is representing Amar Lalvani, one of the two former Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide execs, along with Ross Klein, accused of taking huge amounts of proprietary information with them to their new jobs at Hilton during May and June 2008. Included in all that information was Starwood’s plan to introduce a new lifestyle brand that the company intended to launch in its W properties, “the Zen Den.”
In March 2009, Hilton announced its own lifestyle brand: “Denizen.”
I don’t think Starwood officials believe the similarity between the two names is a coincidence.
As for the latest in the case, Achilles told me that possibly as early as today that Lalvani and Klein, will file their response to the amended charges levied against them. It should make for some interesting reading—and lively chatter around the water coolers at Hilton and Starwood among other companies.
Furthermore, there is a status conference in the case scheduled for 17 March, she said.
What Achilles and others are being more tight-lipped on is the federal grand jury criminal investigation into the manner. Achilles said an investigation is continuing but declined to say anything further. In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, where the civil case and investigation are based, said it is her office’s policy to neither confirm nor deny investigations.
For their part, Hilton has remained quiet, citing their preference to not comment on pending litigation. Starwood’s general counsel Kenneth Siegel, meanwhile, has said previously the civil case “is about restoring a level playing field for fair competition.”
Now you know what I know. Please continue to check back with HotelNewsNow.com for the latest updates in this fascinating case.