Siemens Accuses GE of Exaggerating Trade-Secret Theft Claims

Siemens Accuses GE of Exaggerating Trade-Secret Theft Claims

Siemens Energy AG accused General Electric Co. of embellishing claims of trade-secret theft in a bid to put its German rival at a disadvantage in the tough market for gas-power turbines -- the latest allegation in a U.S. lawsuit between the two companies.

In a January lawsuit, GE claimed that Siemens Energy used confidential information about GE’s gas turbines to help the German company’s U.S. unit unfairly win at least nine gas-turbine contracts that GE claimed were worth billions of dollars. GE claimed a Siemens account manager obtained the information during a bidding process and shared it with dozens of colleagues, some of whom used it to alter a Siemens bid for a Dominion Energy Inc. project in Virginia.

That complaint is an “opportunistic attempt by General Electric to exploit a specific issue with a now-canceled gas turbine project in order to obtain a sweeping injunction that would tactically disadvantage one of its only competitors in the gas turbine market,” Siemens Energy said in a court filing Monday in response to the suit.

Siemens said GE suffered no damages from the Virginia project because it was canceled last year, and “GE’s long history of financial problems in its gas turbine business contradicts its assertion that it would have enjoyed substantial profits if not for the alleged misappropriation.”

GE said “we aggressively protect and defend our intellectual property” but declined to comment further on the case.

The trade secrets battle follows a series of legal clashes between the two industrial giants over power-generation products that are key to each company’s product portfolio. They compete fiercely for turbine and service contracts that can generate cash for decades, contending with a tough market marked by excess capacity as demand rises for electricity generated from renewable sources.

Siemans said that, once it learned about the confidential information, it took “extensive disciplinary action” by firing certain employees, removed the information from its files and voluntarily notified both Dominion and GE.

“GE’s lawsuit has nothing to do with protecting GE’s alleged trade secrets, and instead is a tactical anti-competitive attempt to exploit a historical issue that has already been addressed” by Siemens Energy, the German company said.

The information was limited to the one project, yet GE has expanded that to claim there was a more extensive theft of information, including some that’s actually public, Siemens Energy said.

GE has filed a request that certain Siemens officials be barred from participating in developing bids for gas turbine projects in Belgium, Italy and South Carolina. Siemens is scheduled to file a formal response to that request by March 24.

The case is General Electric Co. v. Siemens Energy Inc., 21-25, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).

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