SunPower sues former executive over trade secrets

(Reuters) - U.S. solar company SunPower Corp is suing a former senior executive, accusing him of stealing the company’s proprietary information to help his new employer, Standard Industries, build a rooftop solar business.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in California in Santa Clara County on June 14, names Martin DeBono, SunPower’s former executive vice president of global channels; Standard Industries; and Standard’s solar division, GAF Energy, as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges that DeBono began working for Standard several months before he left SunPower in April 2018. It states that in 2017, DeBono forwarded emails containing proprietary sales information to a personal account and drafted a PowerPoint presentation called “Solar Overview for Standard” based on SunPower’s proprietary and confidential information.

Privately held Standard Industries, which is based in New York, said the lawsuit was without merit.

“SunPower’s claims are meritless. Talented people are joining GAF Energy because we are driving a more modern approach to residential, rooftop solar and clearly, SunPower is threatened,” the company said in an emailed statement.

DeBono did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Standard launched GAF Energy earlier this year with DeBono at the helm. The company is leveraging its existing roofing manufacturing business, GAF, to offer an integrated solar roof product.

SunPower has sued competitors and former employees in the past alleging theft of trade secrets, including SolarCity in 2012 and SunEdison in 2015.

“As the industry leader in solar technology, we take protecting our intellectual property very seriously,” SunPower said in a statement.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Richard Chang