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HP Accused of Spying on Dell

HP paid the former president of Dell Japan Katsumi Iizuka for Dell's printer plans

According to ex-HP VP of business development and strategy Karl Kamb, a guy HP fired in 2005 and is suing, HP paid the former president of Dell Japan Katsumi Iizuka for Dell's printer plans - product configurations, specifications, target costs, pricing estimates, third-party manufacturers and suppliers and introduction dates.

This was allegedly in 2002 before Dell started peddling its own printers and threatening HP's very profitable corner on that marketplace. It was also seven or eight years after Iizuka left Dell. Iizuka didn't take the money directly but had it handled by a third party and paid to an outfit called Dinner Inc, Kamb said.

The allegations come from a 63-page countersuit Kamb filed a few days ago in the Texas district court where HP is accusing him, Iizuka, four other ex-HP executives and a couple of contractors of stealing trade secrets and misappropriating R&D funds to set up a little side business in flat screen TVs called Byd:sign. HP, which also has a TV business, claims damages of upwards of $100 million.

But Kamb charges HP with illegally using his Social Security number to pretext him when it investigated him before it fired him.

Now none of this would have come to light if Kamb hadn't been going through a messy divorce and if his ex-wife hadn't subpoenaed HP looking for financials on his TV business, whose existence apparently came as news to HP and ticked off its investigation of Kamb.

Wonder if that's the same "messy divorce" HP's ex-ethics officer Kevin Hunsake, now up on pretexting charges along with ex-HP chairman Patti Dunn, was referring to when he told HP lawyers that HP first used pretexting in 2005 to get the phone records of someone "going through a messy divorce."

Kamb's suit names Dunn, Hunsake, HP former general counsel Ann Baskins and HP's pretexting private investigators.

HP claims Kamb, a Compaq legacy, is trying to delay the prosecution of its case against him.

Its own suit says that it hired Iizuka as a consultant to provide market research on unidentified HP rivals and some consulting fees, about $10,000 a month, went to a consulting firm called Imagine That run by Kamb's girlfriend. Kamb claims HP mistakenly thought he was diverting money he was actually paying to Iizuka.

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