NEWS25 March 2010

OTX embarks on legal action against former executives

Legal North America

US— Movie researcher OTX has launched legal proceedings against Kevin Goetz, the former president of its worldwide motion picture research group, claiming that he used company data and tried to poach key staff when he set up his own business earlier this year.

Goetz (pictured) left OTX in February to launch Screen Engine, which also provides research services to the film industry. He was soon joined by Rachel Parness, head of OTX’S screenings and qualitative division, who has also been named in the lawsuit.

OTX alleges that Goetz violated the terms of his contract prohibiting him from “unlawfully competing with OTX, using or disclosing OTX’s confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets and unlawfully soliciting OTX’s employees and customers”.

The firm claims that “within minutes” of leaving OTX Goetz began to contact and solicit members of its screenings division and tried to “create anxiety about their job security” by claiming Screen Engine would “inevitably take all of OTX’s screenings and research business” due to his connections in the industry.

In the 116-page legal document OTX alleges that Goetz purposely resigned on a day when most of the firm’s executives were away in order to solicit key staff.

Goetz is also accused of using confidential OTX information, such as vendor lists, pricing models, research reports and product offerings, to set up Screen Engine’s infrastructure

In its complaint against Parness, OTX alleges that she made “several unusual requests” for confidential and proprietary information in the months leading up to her departure. It is also alleged that she intentionally neglected to process several screenings requests into the company system, causing clients to cancel the events.

OTX also claims that Parness kept an electronic folder that contained confidential information, trade secrets and “documents critical to OTX’s screening business” which she alone could access. The firm alleges that Parness deleted these documents shortly before handing in her resignation in order to cause “further disruption” to the business.

The company is suing for an award of general damages to be proved at trial and a permanent injunction against Goetz and Parness for the alleged breach of the terms of their contracts. OTX also calls on the defendants to cease the alleged misappropriaton of confidential and proprietary information and return any trade secrets.

Neither Goetz nor Parness could be reached for comment at the time of publication.