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Lyft Claims Exec Took Secrets to Uber

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Lyft's former chief operating officer took thousands of sensitive documents with him to his new employer, arch-rival Uber, Lyft claims in court.

Lyft sued its former COO Travis VanderZanden on Nov. 5 in Superior Court.

It claims that VanderZanden took a job as Uber's vice president of international growth, and took more than 98,000 confidential and sensitive documents with him, in violation of his employment contract.

Uber and Lyft are competitors in Internet-based ride-sharing services. Uber announced on Oct. 6 that it had hired VanderZanden.

Lyft claims that VanderZanden refused to turn over his company-provided and -owned work laptop until Lyft sent a staff member to his home to retrieve it.

It claims that in the "months and days" before he left for the new job, VanderZanden "synchronized his personal Dropbox account to his Lyft laptop," using the file-sharing program to make copies of 98,000 files and folders, "including a significant number of Lyft's most sensitive documents."

These documents included "historic and future financial information, strategic planning materials like marketing plans and product plans, customer lists and data, international growth documents, and private personnel information," Lyft says, claiming it discovered this through "computer forensic evidence."

Lyft claims that VanderZanden and Uber "have steadfastly ignored repeated requests to return confidential and proprietary Lyft information VanderZanden possessed post-employment. Uber's counsel maintained that VanderZanden 'has no Lyft proprietary information in his possession - not now, not when he started at Uber, and not since he left Lyft.'"

Lyft also claims that VanderZanden "certainly would have had" confidential Lyft information on his iPhone but sold it to eliminate evidence of his corporate espionage.

It claims VanderZanden also violated his confidentiality agreement by soliciting Lyft employees to work for Uber, including having Lyft's former vice president of operations jump ship for Uber.

"VanderZanden's conduct not only breaches the confidentiality agreement, but also breaches fiduciary duties of loyalty and confidence he owed to Lyft as an officer and employee," Lyft says in the lawsuit.

Lyft seeks expedited discovery, lost profits, and punitive damages for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, and an injunction prohibiting him from using "Lyft's historical financial information, financial projections and forecasts, business strategies, marketing plans, product plans, personnel information, customer data, and any other company data."

It is represented by James Lynch with Latham & Watkins.

Uber is not a party to the lawsuit.

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