HP Gains Restraining Order Over Dell Spying Charge

UPDATED: Countersuit by former executive Karl Kamb charges HP asked him to spy on rival’s upcoming printer plans.
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The only comments allowed to the press are that the countersuit was withdrawn and refilled under seal.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 (Quote) 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 (Quote) 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.

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