Fredrikstad, Norway, 19 June 2019 – Projection specialist Barco welcomes the Norwegian court’s decision to condemn projection company Norxe of inappropriate business conduct. The court granted Barco’s claim that Norxe illegally took business secrets from Barco and breached the marketing act. Barco will now review the decision in depth, and consider next steps.
“This case is about systematically and illegally recruiting key personnel from Barco Fredrikstad, outright stealing and sharing commercial trade secrets, and transferring these from one company to another”, says Kurt Verheggen, General Counsel at Barco. “The intention of these actions by Norxe’s management was to compete with a similar product in the same market place. Also working for a competing business whilst still employed and receiving salary from Barco is not OK. No company should let such non-competitive and illegal behavior pass, and we are glad that the court clearly condemned these actions.”
Actions leading to the court case
The court case was the result of a number of actions and behavior on the part of former Barco Fredrikstad employees. After Barco acquired projectiondesign®, a Norwegian specialist in high-quality projectors, in 2013, the company was transformed into Barco’s center of expertise in single-chip DLP projectors. Barco continued to invest in the development of this technology and the people at this site.
However, in 2016 Barco discovered that a dozen of former employees (including members of projectiondesign® senior management) got together in a new company called Norxe and joined forces against Barco. Indeed, an internal audit confirmed marks of a coordinated and unlawful action directed against Barco Fredrikstad’s employees and Barco’s product development, which led to Barco deciding on a course of legal action.
Judge confirms violations
The judge now confirmed that individuals amongst Norxe’s senior management have violated the Norwegian laws and fundamental principles by bringing Barco business secrets to a competing business, by carrying out work for a competing business while still being employed at Barco, and by recruiting and encouraging the recruitment of Barco key personnel. Moreover, Norxe’s counterclaim was dismissed in full.
“This court case was not an aggressive action to crush a competitor, but a legitimate claim to enforce proper business conduct”, Kurt Verheggen continues. “Dealing open and ethically is one of Barco’s core values, and we expect the same level of ethics of our competition. We are happy to see that the court confirmed Norxe’s wrongdoing, however, we regret the fact that the court did not associate a clear sanction with that.”