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IBM Sues Former Sales Head for Cloud Computing, Seeks $500K and Injunction

May 11, 2016, 1:55 PM UTC
CeBIT 2011
Photograph by Sean Gallup — Getty Images

IBM filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing a long-time senior executive of stealing corporate secrets related to its cloud computing business and of joining a competitor in violation of a non-competition agreement.

In a complaint filed in Manhattan, IBM (IBM) says Louis Attanasio, who held the title of General Manager for Global Sales of Hybrid Cloud, sent confidential documents to his personal email address before leaving the company on April 6.

Attanasio, who started at IBM in 1989, is now employed as Chief Revenue Officer at Informatica, a company that competes with IBM in data analytics and cloud computing services.

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IBM’s lawsuit seeks an injunction ordering Attanasio to honor a 12-month global non-compete agreement and to return a $250,000 payment he accepted to stay on in 2015, plus an additional $251,357 of equity compensation he recently received.

The complaint also portrays an elaborate game of corporate skullduggery in which Informatica repeatedly tried to lure Attanasio, who allegedly shared not only secret IBM documents, but confidential settlement agreements of others who left the company.

IBM says Attanasio also forwarded sensitive information about the company’s sales pipeline and business strategy.


“In March 2016, Attanasio misappropriated (by again sending to his personal email account) a series of confidential messages with his manager—then unaware of Attanasio’s plans to compete against IBM—discussing extremely sensitive details about IBM’s revenue targets, its performance relative to those targets, and resource allocation,” states the complaint.

The lawsuit claims these and other actions by Attanasio amounted to a breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of confidential information, unfair competition, and a violation of various agreements he had signed.

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In a statement, an Informatica spokesperson confirmed that Attanasio has joined the company on May 5 and denied he did anything unlawful.

“It is unfortunate that IBM has chosen to resort to litigation to try to prevent Lou from joining Informatica. Despite IBM’s accusatory legal rhetoric in its court filings, Informatica does not need and never sought any IBM confidential information by hiring Lou,” the statement said in part.

Attanasio could not be reached directly.

The lawsuit comes at a time when IBM is counting on the cloud computing business to turn around its fortunes and help offset a rough patch in which it has posted 16 straight quarters of declining revenues.

Correction (May 11, 2016 12:07 p.m.): This article previously stated IBM posted 16 straight quarters of losses. It has been corrected to reflect declining revenues, not losses.