The Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette unit has sued four former Gillette employees for theft of trade secrets and breach of contract in their association with a Dallas-based competitor.
In a complaint filed Friday in a Massachusetts superior court in Boston, Gillette alleged that the four – Craig Provost, John Griffin, William Tucker and Douglas Kohring — shared proprietary information gained during their employ at Gillette with ShaveLogic in violation of employment and separation agreements with Gillette.
The four are listed as New England residents who are now either employees of ShaveLogic or have been retained by the firm, which competes with Gillette in the wet shaving category.
Court papers cite a U.S. patent issued last July for a magnetic attachment on a shaving cartridge now assigned to ShaveLogic by its “putative inventors.” The four defendants were involved in the development of the device while at Gillette, according to the complaint.
Provost worked in Gillette’s industrial design group and Griffin in research and development. Tucker, a mechanical engineer, focused on product design and development, and Kohring served as a senior mechanical design engineer.
The complaint also alleges that ShaveLogic sought individuals with Gillette backgrounds and used its relationships with former employees of the brand to help in its efforts to raise capital.
“We invest heavily to understand consumers’ needs and then to innovate to meet those needs,” said Deborah Majoras, chief legal officer of P&G. “Our investments have enabled us to invent some of the most popular shaving products in the world. When it becomes necessary, we take action to protect the intellectual assets behind those investments.”
On Monday, ShaveLogic responded, calling the allegations “groundless” and saying it would “vigorously defend their inventors, technology, reputations and right to work in the razor field.”
“ShaveLogic vigorously denies the baseless allegations by Gillette,” said Rob Wilson, chief executive officer of Shave Logic. “ShaveLogic’s products are different from anything Gillette has on the market today. Every ShaveLogic invention has been created fully independently of so-called Gillette trade secrets and all work was performed long after the expiration date of the former employees’ non-competition agreements.
“We are disappointed that Gillette has resorted to bullying tactics to attempt to stop a pioneering start-up from bringing a unique and innovative razor to market and we will vigorously defend our team, product and position,” Wilson concluded.
Gillette is based in South Boston, Mass., and P&G in Cincinnati.
Gillette, which has requested a jury trial, is seeking monetary damages and interest, injunctive relief, nullification of propriety rights to the magnetic attachment device and compensation for attorneys’ fees.