Siebel and salesforce.com in court over employee confidentiality

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The rivalry between Siebel and salesforce.com goes to court today after the former filed suit against a former executive who resigned to join the enemy camp, claiming he disclosed confidential information to his new employer while still at Siebel.

The breach-of-contract complaint alleges that former Siebel Vice President Brett Queener violated a confidentiality agreement. The complaint claims that Queener participated in a meeting in which proprietary information about Siebel's products was disclosed two days before he left Siebel and after he had agreed to take a job with Salesforce.

Siebel also alleges that Queener, who left Siebel on July 9, helped Salesforce recruit other Siebel executives while still employed by Siebel. The complaint says: "Queener has breached his obligations under the Proprietary Information Agreement by, among other things, while employed at Siebel Systems, engaging in activities that directly conflicted with his obligations to Siebel Systems, unlawfully inducing Siebel Systems' employees to leave their employment with Siebel Systems, and, on information and belief, unlawfully using and disclosing Siebel Systems' proprietary and confidential information.”

Siebel is seeking more than $25,000 in damages and "injunctive relief," according to the complaint. Representatives of Siebel and Salesforce declined to comment on the case, as did Queener.

Queener's attorneys have filed a motion seeking dismissal of the case, calling Siebel's allegations "threadbare," "vague" and "deficient." The motion argues: "Siebel has failed to identify a single document or piece of confidential information that it alleges Queener improperly used or disclosed to Salesforce.com. Siebel has also failed to identify a single employee that Queener improperly induced to leave Siebel."

Salesforce has hired a number of former Siebel executives in roughly the past year. Queener was formerly in charge of field marketing at Siebel and holds a similar position at Salesforce.

Dave Orrico, a seven-year Siebel sales veteran, joined Salesforce in August as senior vice president and general manager of its Americas region. In July, Salesforce hired Steve Garnett, who left Siebel last year, to oversee European business. Craig Ramsey, former Siebel executive vice president of worldwide sales, joined Salesforce's board of directors in April. Phil Robinson left Siebel and joined Salesforce.com as vice president of marketing in Europe.

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