HP Gains Restraining Order Over Dell Spying Charge

UPDATED: The spy versus spy mudslinging between computer maker Hewlett-Packard and a former executive took a break after a Texas judge told
lawyers for both sides to stop talking to the press.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Schneider threw out former HP
executive Karl Kamb’s counterclaim against HP. In it, Kamb alleged HP
spied on Dell, then attempted to access his private phone records.

Writing from his Tyler, Texas court, Schnieder also ruled the
counterclaim could be refiled, but under seal and without any
exhibits previously attached to the claim.

All parties “shall refrain from discussing the contents of,
allegations in or attachments to Defendant Karl Kamb’s Counterclaim
with any members of the media or press,” according to the ruling.

The only comments allowed to the press are that the countersuit
was withdrawn and refilled under seal.

Earlier today HP  denounced as
“wholly without merit” charges it used pretexting
tactics in attempts to obtain the phone records of a former vice
president.

The claims by Karl Kamb, former HP vice president of business
development and strategy followed a federal lawsuit HP filed last
year, accusing the former employee of fraud.

Kamb alleged in the countersuit to HP’s 2005 charges, that the
computer company attempted to obtain his cell phone records and took
a laptop computer from him after enlisting his help to learn inside
information about Dell’s upcoming printer plans.

The suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of Texas said HP, including former Chairman Patricia Dunn and former HP attorney Kevin Hunsaker
committed identity theft and took part in a conspiracy.

The former HP executive charges HP used his social security number
and other personal information to contact T-Mobile and Sprint and misrepresented themselves as Kamb.

“HP believed that Kamb had profited (and was diverting funds) from
monies that HP had in fact paid to an entity in exchange for
confidential information about a major competitor,” according to the
court papers filed in Tyler, Texas.

Kamb alleged HP’s Imaging and Printing Group asked the former
executive to contact people with knowledge of Dell’s plans to enter
the printer market.

Eventually, HP offered a former Japan Dell president Katsumi Iizuka a
monthly stipend.

“This counterclaim is wholly without merit,” responded HP
spokesperson Emma Wischhusen. Kamb’s counterclaim is an attempt to
delay prosecution of the original case, the spokesperson said.

Kamb also charged an HP employee or agent in August 2005 posed as
him, tried to obtain his T-Mobile phone records. About the same time,
someone posing as Kamb used his social security number attempting to
collect his Sprint telephone records.

The HP spokesperson said the pretexting is “to the best of our
knowledge, patently untrue.”

HP previously said it rejected such tactics.

A report that the Texas Court tossed out Kamb’s countersuit could not
be confirmed with his Tyler Texas attorney.

HP holds Kalm illegally founded a flat-panel TV maker, using
proprietary information and demanding money from the computer company.

The charges and countercharges are just the latest twist on an
episode HP would sooner forget. After word leaked of HP’s botched
internal investigation of its board of directors and news media, a
number of HP executives and outside private investigators were hit
with state and federal charges.

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