Motorola accuses Apple IPhone executive of taking trade secrets

Published: 7/18/2008 2:21 PM

Motorola Inc., the largest U.S. mobile-phone maker, has sued a former executive now working for Apple Inc., accusing him of disclosing its trade secrets to aid in the marketing of Apple's iPhone.

Apple introduced the newest version of its year-old iPhone wireless device on July 11, selling about 1 million of them in its debut weekend at a base price of $199.

Michael Fenger in March ended a six-year career at Schaumburg-based Motorola where he was a vice president for the company's mobile-device business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He is now Apple's vice president for global iPhone sales, according to a complaint filed yesterday in state court in Chicago.

"He was privy to the pricing, margins, customer initiatives, allocation of resources, product development, multiyear product, business and talent planning and strategies being used by Motorola," according to the complaint.

While Apple has expanded its mobile-phone business, Motorola has lost market share, slipping from second place to third in global handset sales since last year. In March, the company said it planned to split off its mobile-phone division, which has lost more than $1.5 billion since the start of 2007.

Fenger's employment by Apple violates his written promise not to work for a competitor for at least two years after leaving Motorola, the company said in the complaint. Motorola seeks a court order barring Fenger from working for Apple.

Motorola also seeks to recoup more than $1 million for Fenger's alleged violation of company stock-option agreements.

Susan Lundgren, spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment. Fenger couldn't be reached for comment.