Porsche Cars sues Fla. dealership over trade secrets

Atlanta-based Porsche Cars North America is suing a Florida dealership, accusing it of secretly recording trade secrets about upcoming 2014 and 2015 vehicles during an Atlanta conference and derailing marketing plans for the vehicles’ roll-out.

The suit filed in Fulton County Superior Court against Pompano Beach-based Champion Porsche seeks unspecified damages. Porsche Cars is the exclusive importer of Porsche sports cars and SUVs for the United States.

Spokesman Bernd Harling would not say how the company’s marketing plans have been affected by Champion’s actions. Champion General Manager Tony Sciple did not return calls for comment.

In its lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court, Porsche Cars said it held a marketing conference on Sept. 23 at the W Hotel in Atlanta for dealers, during which highly confidential and proprietary information was disclosed about upcoming Porsche models. The information dealt with design, engineering, pricing, product launch and marketing strategy for 2014 Boxter GTS, Cayman GTS, 911 Targa and Targa S and 2015 Macan.

Porsche Cars said it discloses the information so dealers can get a head start in developing their own marketing strategies.

The company said it did not plan to release the information publicly until 2014, but three days after the event, images from Porsche Cars’ PowerPoint presentation began appearing on Champion’s website and the personal sites of two of its representatives who had attended the Atlanta “Grass Roots Meeting.”

Porsche Cars said the two Champion staffers apparently used “a tablet or other handheld personal computing device” to record renderings of car models and other information.

The company said Champion complied with its Sept. 27 demand to take the material down from the websites but by that time details were already being reported on more than 40 websites. “The damage had already been done,” the lawsuit said.

The company said the spread of the material was impossible to contain even though it promptly sent out take-down notices citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Porsche Cars said Champion had a duty to maintain the confidentiality of the conference and that the material posted was covered by the Georgia Trade Secrets Act.

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