American hotel group Starwood, which operates lifestyle brand W, alleges that two of its former executives, Ross Klein and Amar Lalvani, stole large amounts of proprietary and highly confidential Starwood information to spearhead Hilton's launch of its Denizen brand.
Hilton responded by putting Klein, Lalvani and its entire luxury and lifestyle team on paid administrative leave of absence and suspended all further development of the Denizen Hotels brand.
The lawsuit alleges theft of trade secrets, computer fraud and unfair competition, that amounted to "the clearest imaginable case of corporate espionage, theft of trade secrets, unfair competition and computer fraud."
As yet Hilton hasn't opened any Denizen Hotels, but it was pursuing contracts and development deals and planned to open the first in 2010, with talks were under way for hotels in cities including Abu Dhabi, Buenos Aires, Jerusalem, London, Miami, Mumbai and New York.
By Gemma Sharkey
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