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Market Developments

Cartier sues former exec for trade secret theft

By Michelle Graff

July 14, 2014

New York--Cartier has filed a lawsuit against its former director of off-line advertising, claiming she asked a co-worker to download confidential information about advertising plans and then tried to entice that same employee to follow her to competitor Tiffany & Co. 

In a lawsuit filed Monday in New York federal court by Cartier parent company Richemont North America Inc., the luxury goods conglomerate alleges that in March, after New York-based Cartier advertising executive Melissa Pordy was told that she would be laid off due to restructuring, she “planned and took steps to access, procure and use plaintiffs’ confidential information.” 

According to the suit, Pordy gave the assistant manager of offline advertising, who is not named in court papers, nine USB thumb drives to download confidential Cartier information contained on her work computer and Cartier’s network, including advertising plans, proposals and strategies. 

Pordy told the assistant manager, who was her former assistant, that the information would be used “if we need it sometime,” court papers state. 

After leaving Cartier, Pordy went to work for competitor Tiffany & Co. and solicited the assistant manager to join her there, all the while pressuring her to download the rest of the confidential information, court papers state. 

The assistant manager verbally accepted a position with Tiffany and resigned from Cartier. Three days later, however, she withdrew her resignation and confessed to a colleague that Pordy had requested she download confidential files, court papers state. A week later, she officially resigned from Cartier. 

Richemont’s lawsuit also claims that Pordy pretended to be a member of its company’s human resources department in order to get her work cell phone number transferred to her personal phone and, due to a clerical error, received more than $28,000 in unearned wages that she has not returned. 

Attempts to reach Pordy were unsuccessful and court papers do not list any attorney for the defendant. 

A Tiffany spokesman confirmed that Pordy does work at Tiffany but said that the company cannot comment on an employee’s personal matters.

Richemont is suing Pordy for violating the employee agreements she signed regarding confidential information and soliciting Cartier employees to leave the company, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, tortious interference with contractual relations, conversion, fraud and unjust enrichment. 

The company is seeking unspecified damages in the case, the return of the $28,889 in allegedly unearned wages, the return and/or destruction of any confidential information in her possession and a permanent block on her using the telephone number once owned by Richemont.