US consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton is in the process of suing competitor Deloitte Consulting, accusing the Big 4 firm of stealing proprietary information. With the ‘stolen’ information, Deloitte allegedly recruited an entire team from Booz Allen and used the information to gain an ‘unfair’ edge when pitching for government work. Deloitte Consulting denies the allegations.
The U.S. consulting industry – the largest consulting market in the world – is currently closely following a law suit between two consulting firms – Booz Allen Hamilton (one of the US’ largest public sector consultants) and Deloitte Consulting (the largest management consultancy in the world). Booz Allen Hamilton claims that Deloitte Consulting used stolen proprietary information to recruit an entire team from Booz Allen. According to its accusations, early 2012 Deloitte executives conspired with a few Booz Allen employees to steal proprietary information about salaries and roles. With this information, they could easily tempt a team of Booz Allen consultants to join Deloitte.
The consultants subsequently took along further proprietary information, which they then used in business development planning and proposals. Information that, according to Booz Allen, was stolen includes among others financial information such as revenue projections, and an overview of Booz Allen contracts, including terms and conditions with customers.
"Booz Allen's lawsuit is based on evidence that strongly suggests Deloitte and some of its senior executives improperly obtained Booz Allen proprietary information and used it to interfere with Booz Allen's employee and customer relationships," says William Meyers, Vice President at Booz Allen. "Their actions go well outside the bounds of proper business conduct and fair competition between companies. Booz Allen invests considerable resources in the development of our professionals and the protection of our proprietary business information, and we will continue to seek redress for Deloitte's misconduct."
Deloitte has rebuffed the claims, arguing that Booz Allen’s lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to punish former employees for seeking a new employer. “This case arises out of Booz Allen's frustration with several former employees who left to go work for a competitor,” the motion claims. “These at-will employees were not subject to any non-compete or non-solicitation agreements, and therefore were free to leave one employer for what they perceive to be greener pastures at another,” writes Deloitte.
Although it doesn’t occur too often, it is not the first time that rival consulting firms find themselves in the court debating the theft of proprietary information. Earlier this year for instance AlixPartners sued two former partners (Eric Thompson; Hong Kong office and Ivo Naumann; Shanghai office) for allegedly stealing confidential files when they left for rival McKinsey & Company.