January 24, 2007 10:50 PM PST

HP accused of spying on Dell's printer plans

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Among the documents Kamb included in his filing were e-mails he says were exchanged between himself, Iizuka and various HP employees.

In a pair of e-mails from January 2003, Iizuka appears to be exchanging information on Dell's upcoming printer lineup with HP employees. In one dated January 16, 2003, Iizuka says he has met the person responsible for managing printer sales for Lexmark, the company that builds Dell's printers. He adds: "I could try to get some information about Dell/Lexmark and Dell branded product over there."

Karl Kamb
Credit: KVVU
Karl Kamb Jr.

In a February 20, 2003, e-mail exchange that appears to be between two HP employees, one of the employees said "Dell will introduce three printer models in the late March/Early April timeframe," according to the filing. The e-mail includes prices and specifications of Dell printers.

Dell printers made their debut in March 2003. A Dell spokesman declined to comment about the court cases, but did say that Iizuka left Dell eight years before the company's entry into the printer business.

Both HP and the defendants named in its original suit are accusing each other of civil offenses. HP alleges trade-secret misappropriation, fraud, civil conspiracy and violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. For his part, Kamb said HP is liable for breach of contract, civil conspiracy, invasion of privacy (tied to the use of pretexting), and also violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the RICO Act.

If any of the allegations are substantially true, prosecutors could bring criminal charges as well. Pretexting may violate state laws and common law rules prohibiting fraud. Trade secret misappropriation can be a federal crime under the federal Economic Espionage Act of 1996, and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

More claims of HP pretexting
Following the alleged espionage campaign, Kamb says in his filing that someone at the company erroneously concluded he was pocketing some of the money meant to pay off Iizuka. He was ordered back to the U.S.

Some of the details at this point are sketchy. What is clear is that Kamb's former wife, Susan Michelle Kamb, filed for divorce on grounds that included adultery and sent HP a subpoena on August 4, 2005, asking for information about her husband's involvement with Byd:sign.

As a result, according to Kamb, sometime in August 2005, HP "engaged in clandestine acts" to obtain his private telephone records that included unsuccessful pretexting attempts aimed at T-Mobile and successful attempts aimed at Sprint. On August 31, 2005, Kamb's attorney sent Hunsaker, then an HP attorney, a demand that the company stop spying on him.

In a written response a few days later, Hunsaker denied that HP had ever tried to obtain his phone records. Hunsaker--who is also facing criminal charges arising from the pretexting of journalists, including three CNET News.com reporters--was a senior HP lawyer and its chief ethics officer.

Kamb says that last fall's investigation into HP's attempts to unearth a news leak demonstrates that HP attempted to spy on Kamb.

Last August, when it became clear that the public was to be made aware of HP's attempts to uncover a news leak, the company hired attorneys to interview everyone involved. Hunsaker was interviewed on August 25, 2006.

"Hunsaker first learned that HP had used pretexting to obtain phone records in July 2005 in connection with an unrelated HP investigation," attorneys working for law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati wrote in their report, a copy of which was released by the congressional committee investigating HP. "One of the subjects of that investigation was going through a messy divorce." Wilson Sonsini, which had been hired by the board as an outside counsel, no longer works for the board but continues to provide services for HP.

A call to Hunsaker's attorney was not returned Wednesday, but he has said in the past that his client was misquoted by the Wilson, Sonsini attorneys who interviewed him.

Kamb is now living in Las Vegas. A local Fox News affiliate, Fox 5, announced earlier this month that it has retained him as a "Dream Team" member to provide commentary on how to get more from new "products and innovations to suit the Vegas lifestyle."

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