Stop the press releases! PR Newswire sued by rival

(Reuters) - When one distributor of corporate press releases concluded that a rival was trying to steal its secrets, it didn’t issue a press release, it went to court.

Marketwire on Wednesday filed a $25 million lawsuit accusing rival PR Newswire of causing irreparable harm by hiring away its workers and inducing them to divulge confidential information and trade secrets, violating confidentiality and non-compete agreements.

In its complaint, Toronto-based Marketwire accused PR Newswire of hiring its former chief technology officer, co-defendant Shoeb Ansari, as part of a what it called a continuing campaign to steal its technology and gain access to customer data. A copy of the complaint was obtained by Reuters.

Ansari, who was terminated from his Marketwire job in June 2010 and is now PR Newswire’s chief information officer, has since lured several former colleagues to join him at New York-based PR Newswire, the complaint said.

Other defendants in the case include Ontario residents David Mariai, Vinh Ngo and Darren Tarachan, who resigned from Marketwire last week to join PR Newswire, the complaint said.

Marketwire said its proprietary technology includes a system for distributing press releases, as well as “Release Editor,” which helps its editors communicate with customers.

The lawsuit seeks at least $25 million in damages and a permanent ban on any use or disclosure of confidential business information and trade secrets.

A PR Newswire spokeswoman had no comment on the complaint, filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Marketwire, PR Newswire and such rivals as Business Wire and GlobeNewswire distribute thousands of corporate press releases a day, including earnings and other announcements.

PR Newswire co-owns CNW Group, whose services include Canada Newswire. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc owns Business Wire, and NASDAQ OMX Group Inc owns GlobeNewswire.

The case is Marketwire LP et al v. PR Newswire Association LLC et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 652938/2011. Thomson Reuters also owns a press release distribution service, ONE.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York