A modern-day David has taken aim at Hewlett-Packard
with a $100 million
lawsuit accusing the computer giant of false ownership and
misappropriation of trade secrets.
The suit was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court by New Century Communications, a division of Allentown,
Pennsylvania-based Computer Aid. It alleges that when HP acquired cable TV
testing-equipment manufacturer CaLAN
in June of 1994, it wrongfully claimed technologies developed under a
between Computer Aid and CaLAN.
Computer Aid alleges that HP CaLAN sold itself to HP
on the basis of a network management and diagnostic software program called
Galaxy, which New Century had been developing under an exclusive joint
agreement with CaLAN. Several months after the acquisition, the suit
charges, HP asserted that it was the sole owner of all software rights
associated with Galaxy and ordered New Century to stop working on the
"There's a bunch of products HP has that have Galaxy-type technology that
they didn't have
before they acquired CaLAN," says Jay Spievack, a partner in Anderson,
Kill, Olick, & Oshinsky, the law firm representing Computer Aid. Chief
among these, Spievack says, are HP's Broadband Launch Pad and Broadband
System Analyzer, both of which he contends perform functions identical to those
associated with Galaxy.
A Hewlett-Packard spokeswoman said that HP acquired CaLAN for its cable
television technology and that Computer Aid's complaint includes devices
not associated with cable TV. HP officials are reserving further comment
until the company has been
served with the suit.
But Spievack claims that HP adapted the Galaxy technology to other uses. "The
device was robust enough to monitor any transmission of high-speed data,"