Bitglass has sued a former executive and rival Netskope for allegedly exploiting confidential information obtained through the executive to gain an improper advantage in the marketplace.
The cloud security vendor has accused ex-Vice President of Worldwide Solutions Engineering Joseph Green of surreptitiously taking confidential Bitglass files and reports and bringing them to top competitor Netskope, where he started as global director, solutions architects in May 2019. Netskope then used Green’s information both internally and in competitive bids to gain an unfair edge.
“Netskope is and has been using Bitglass’s confidential and trade secret information obtained through Mr. Green and/or other sources to disrupt Bitglass’s business relationships, to unfairly compete with Bitglass in competitive bidding contexts, to damage Bitglass’s business, and to benefit itself at the expense of Bitglass,” Bitglass wrote in a complaint filed Wednesday in US District Court in California.
Bitglass also alleged in the 31-page lawsuit that Santa Clara, Calif.-based Netskope began in May 2020 circulating a “Competitive Brief” in marketing activities to potential customers that prominently featured the Bitglass trademark as well as a number of false and misleading statements about Bitglass’s products. Netskope, Bitglass and Green didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from CRN USA.
Green joined Bitglass in October 2017 following three years at Palo Alto Networks, and his employment with the company ended on April 16, 2019 during a phone call with Senior Vice President of Field Operations Dean Hickman-Smith. Green’s access to Bitglass email and applications was to have been terminated at 1 p.m. that day, but Green allegedly requested that his access by extended until 3 p.m.
From shortly after 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on April 16, 2019, Bitglass said Green downloaded a large number of confidential, proprietary and trade secret files from the company’s Google Drive repository. This included: product roadmap documents; product architecture diagrams; confidential bids and RFP submissions; internal sales playbooks; files from high value customers; and Bitglass’s Master Price List.
Green is also accused of accessing trade secret sales and customer information reports from Bitglass’s Salesforce.com system around April 16, 2019, as well as retaining the laptop issued to him by Bitglass for more than a month after his employment ended. The laptop included a downloaded copy of all Green’s emails, and he reportedly didn’t return it until May 31, 2019, at which point he already joined Netskope.
Netskope is accused of starting to use confidential information obtained through Green in June 2019, when AstraZeneca received a recommendation to replace its incumbent system with Bitglass. Shortly thereafter, Netskope CEO Sanjay Beri allegedly provided AstraZeneca with files obtained through Green that indicated poor sales data and customer satisfaction metrics relating to the Bitglass offering.
Bitglass said AstraZeneca rejected the company’s offering as a direct result of the material provided by Beri, who indicated to the pharmaceutical giant that he had inside knowledge of Bitglass via Green. Netskope and Beri intentionally distorted the Bitglass material to gain additional competitive advantage, the lawsuit claims, knowing fully that Bitglass has strong customer ratings.
Bitglass’s suspicions were allegedly confirmed by a text message sent to a member of AstraZeneca’s outside software procurement agent by Neil Reddy, a regional account director at Netskope. Reddy bragged in the text that he had “absolute gold” via the “head of SEs from BG,” which Bitglass said was clearly a reference to Green, who had been the VP of S[olutions] E[ngineering] at B[it]G[lass].
Netskope also reportedly attempted to disrupt Bitglass’s relationship with a second company almost immediately after Green changed employers. Bitglass said it had won an exclusive contract to deliver cloud security products to certain military and intelligence agencies through a well-known defense contractor.
But after Green joined Netskope, Beau Hutto – Netskope’s vice president of federal sales – is said to have offered the defense contractor confidential information obtained from Green to undermine the contractor’s commitment to work with Bitglass. Shortly after Hutto’s contact, the defense contractor informed Bitglass of Hutto’s improper overtures, according to the lawsuit.
“Netskope is using the information selectively and is distorting it in way most likely to provide it competitive advantage over Bitglass and to cause the maximum competitive harm to Bitglass,” the lawsuit alleges.
Beri, Reddy, Hutto and AstraZeneca didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from CRN USA.
Shortly thereafter, Netskope began brazenly using Bitglass’s confidential and trade secret information for internal purposes as well, according to the lawsuit. On July 8, 2019, a Netskope employee allegedly messaged a Bitglass employee via a mobile app with a screenshot of confidential and trade secret Bitglass training material being used at Netskope with the caption, “This is awkward.”
Netskope is believed to have obtained the information in question from Green, according to Bitglass. Bitglass said its attorneys exchanged a series of letters with Netskope and its attorneys beginning June 7, 2019, demanding that the exploitation of confidential Bitglass information obtained through Green cease immediately.
Then on July 21 and July 28, 2019, Bitglass said it emailed three of Netskope’s outside board members demanding that the company stop using misappropriated confidential Bitglass material in employee training and elsewhere. Despite follow up communications between the attorneys from both sides, Bitglass said the matter hasn’t been resolved and the harm to Bitglass hasn’t been remedied.