Starwood sues Hilton for "corporate espionage"

20 Apr 2009 by Mark Caswell

Starwood Hotels and Resorts has filed a lawsuit against Hilton, for the theft of files relating to the creation of Hilton’s lifestyle brand Denizen Hotels.

The lawsuit accuses Ross Klein (former president of Starwood’s luxury brands group, and now global head of Hilton luxury and lifestyle brands), as well as Amar Lalvani (global head of Hilton luxury and lifestyle brand development) and “other former Starwood employees” of “looting” 100,000 files from Starwood computers, including “proprietary strategic plans, confidential deal terms, [and] step-by-step playbooks for creating lifestyle and luxury brands”.

Hilton unveiled its forthcoming Denizen Hotels brand last month (see online news March 10), but Starwood says that the group’s entry into the lifestyle hotel market has been expedited by the theft of “massive amounts of proprietary and highly confidential Starwood information”, which has also enabled Hilton to “substantially reduce its costs and risks of doing so”. Starwood continues that the theft “unfairly enabled Hilton to launch a new brand in only nine months instead of the usual three to five years”.

For its part, Hilton has released the following statement:

"Hilton Hotels Corporation believes this lawsuit is without merit and will vigorously defend itself. We fully intend to move forward on the development of our newest brand, Denizen Hotels.”

For more information visit,

Report by Mark Caswell

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