An Ohio court dismissed Procter & Gamble Co.'s suit against a former marketing director in Germany and Alberto-Culver Co., which last year named him its president for international operations. The Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas ruled P&G hadn't proved Paul Stoneham had given trade secrets to Alberto-Culver. In a suit filed last year, P&G contended Mr. Stoneham's rise to a much higher position at Alberto-Culver could only be explained by its competitor's desire to tap his extensive knowledge of P&G's global haircare strategy. In a statement, Mr. Stoneham said he had always kept P&G trade secrets confidential, even after jointing Alberto-Culver. Alberto-Culver said the case had included six months of discovery, 200,000 documents and 50 depositions, prompting the court to comment that it "had never seen a case analyzed so thoroughly by both sides.'' Alberto-Culver President-CEO Howard B. Bernick, accused P&G of prolonging the litigation "to attempt to dominate, intimidate and create serious financial burdens for the small companies with which it competes. At the same time, they are trying to preclude those companies from freely hiring executives for senior management positions and attempting to intimidate and limit the career choices of their own employees.''
Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.