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Total SA’s SunPower Sues SolarCity Over Trade-Secret Pacts

Total SA’s SunPower Corp. sued rival SolarCity Corp. for unfair business practices, claiming five former SunPower employees illegally used trade secrets.

SunPower said a forensic investigation after the five left the company showed they had copied “tens of thousands of files” and moved information to SolarCity computers, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in San Jose, California.

“Defendants have willfully interfered with SunPower’s ownership and possessory rights to such property without lawful justification,” SunPower said in a complaint. The company is seeking unspecified damages.

SunPower, based in San Jose, makes solar panels, and San Mateo, California-based SolarCity is a distributor of such panels and related equipment, SunPower said.

Jonathan Bass, a SolarCity spokesman, didn’t immediately return voice and e-mail messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is SunPower v. SolarCity, 12-cv-694, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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