Ex-Hewlett Packard VP pleads guilty to IBM theft

WASHINGTON Fri Jul 11, 2008 4:01pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former Hewlett Packard Co (HPQ.N) vice president pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets while he worked for IBM (IBM.N) and admitted sharing the data with Hewlett Packard, the Justice Department said on Friday.

Atul Malhotra, of Santa Barbara, Calif., pleaded guilty in San Jose, Calif. federal court to one count of theft of trade secrets and faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, the department said. IBM and HP cooperated fully in the case, it said.

Malhotra worked for IBM until April 2006 as a sales director in the IBM Global Services division, the department said. It cited court documents to say Malhotra admitted that, in March of that year, he requested confidential information about IBM product costs and materials.

In July 2006, two months after he took a job as a vice president of imaging and printing services at HP, Malhotra passed the IBM information to two senior HP vice presidents, in e-mails with the subject "For Your Eyes Only - confidential," the department said.

It said Malhotra said in the e-mails the information would help HP's sales teams better understand competitors' goals.

(Reporting by Randall Mikkelsen; editing by John Wallace and Andre Grenon)

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