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Synthes Accuses Stryker of Raiding California Sales Force, Taking Secrets

A unit of Synthes Inc. (SYST), the world’s largest maker of bone-related medical devices, accused Stryker Corp. (SYK) in a lawsuit of raiding its San Francisco sales force and using confidential information from former employees.

Stryker seeks to obtain “an improper competitive advantage” in the industry for medical implants and instruments used in spinal surgery, Synthes USA Sales LLC said in the complaint filed today in federal court in Philadelphia. Synthes also accused three former sales employees of misappropriating trade secrets and breaching their contractual and fiduciary obligations to the company.

The former employees resigned from Synthes from August to early October, according to the complaint. They immediately began working for Stryker, one of the company’s direct competitors, and are soliciting former customers, according to the court filing.

Representatives of Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Stryker didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and phone message at the company headquarters seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Johnson & Johnson agreed to buy Synthes, based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in April for $21.3 billion to become the leader in the $5.5 billion market for devices to treat trauma victims.

The case is Synthes USA Sales LLC v. Stryker Corp., 11- cv-07876, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

To contact the reporter on this story: Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia at spearson3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Blumberg at pblumberg1@bloomberg.net

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