UPDATE 1-Starwood may pursue Hilton trade secret theft case
* Starwood may pursue trade secret case against Hilton
* Alleged theft related to luxury hotels
* One Starwood claim to be arbitrated
* Starwood shares close down 4 cents (Adds details of the complaint, company comment, bylines)
By Deepa Seetharaman and Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, June 16 (Reuters) - Hilton Worldwide lost its bid to dismiss a lawsuit by rival hotel operator Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (HOT.N) that accused it and two former Starwood executives of stealing trade secrets.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Robinson on Wednesday ruled that Starwood had presented sufficient evidence to allow the case against Hilton, which is owned by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), to go forward.
Starwood said the executives, Ross Klein and Amar Lalvani, who were in charge of developing its luxury hotels before jumping to Hilton in 2008, accessed its computer systems and files without authorization, and stole hundreds of thousands of documents with confidential information.
"The amended complaint alleges specific facts to demonstrate that both Klein and Lalvani's access of Starwood's computer systems and transmission of electronic files to home addresses (and ultimately to Hilton) continued after they had accepted employment by Hilton for Hilton's benefit," Robinson wrote in a 19-page opinion.
The Robinson, whose courtroom is in White Plains, New York,allowed one Starwood claim "false representations" to go to arbitration.
Hilton had sought to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds. It sought to have all of Starwood's claims be settled through arbitration. But the judge retained jurisdiction on two of the claims.
Starwood is based in White Plains, while Hilton is based in McLean, Virginia.
"Today's decision by the Court is a procedural ruling that has no impact on the ultimate outcome of the case or what the plaintiff must prove if the case goes to trial," Hilton said in a statement. "The ruling merely allows the case to move forward to the next phase."
Christopher Morvillo, a lawyer for Lalvani, declined immediate comment, saying he was still studying the decision. Both Starwood and a lawyer for Klein did not return calls seeking comment.
Starwood had sued Hilton in April 2009, accusing Klein and Lalvani of working to develop a new Hilton hotel line called Denizen, using confidential information from Starwood.
Shares of Starwood closed Wednesday down 4 cents at $49.60 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The case is Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc v. Hilton Hotels Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 09-03862. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Deepa Seetharaman, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)
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