Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 10/25/2011 09:14:00 AM

Groupon Sues Former Employees, Alleging They Stole Trade Secrets to Benefit Google

By Todd

Bloomberg's Andrew Harris is reporting that Groupon, the now-famous purveyor of online discounts for local vendors, has sued a couple of its former employees and accused them of misappropriating trade secrets that could be used to benefit Google Offers.

We admit that we haven't seen the complaint, but the report from Mr. Harris suggests that Groupon is relying at least in part on an inevitable disclosure theory of the case. The article quotes from the complaint: “In their new positions with Google Offers and/or Google, Hanna and Nolan will provide the same or similar services as they provided at Groupon,” requiring them “to employ confidential and proprietary information that they learned while employed at Groupon."

Interestingly, in a separate lawsuit filed at the same time, Groupon is suing another former employee on grounds that her creation of a coupon-peddling site is a violation of her noncompete. MyFoxChicago.com is reporting that Groupon is claiming Tris Hnedak illegally founded the Tennessee-based Memphis Smart Deals after her termination. Groupon claims Memphis Smart Deals attempts to mimic the business model and strategies of Groupon and attempted to solicit at least some of the customers she serviced while working for Groupon.
The complaint claims Hnedak said Groupon is “where she learned the daily deal business.”

We don't have any skin in this game but Groupon is obviously generating a legal strategy to address the flourishing competition it faces from seemingly every corner of the internet. We'll keep an eye on developments for you.


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