PARIS — In another black eye for Siemens,
the German industrial conglomerate found itself accused on Wednesday of
posting a rival’s business secrets on an internal computer network.
The rival, Dassault Systèmes,
a French software maker, said confidential business data related to
3,216 customers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria had been posted
on the intranet of Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software.
It said Siemens had not provided any explanation of how the data was obtained, or how the information might have been used.
Dassault said Siemens had returned the customer list and given assurances that any copies would be destroyed.
Siemens, based in Munich, later confirmed that Dassault had contacted
it in early June regarding a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung newspaper regarding “an alleged infringement of trade secrets.”
newspaper said — and Dassault confirmed — that the data had included
organizational charts, price lists and the cost of software maintenance
for individual customers.
Siemens said it had handed the files
over to Dassault and denied any infringement, adding that it was
surprised by Dassault’s statements.
Siemens is already reeling
from a bribery scandal that has cast its business practices in a harsh
light. A law firm hired by Siemens has identified 1.3 billion euros
($1.9 billion) in suspicious payments that might have been bribes to
win business, and German prosecutors are investigating more than 300
former and current Siemens employees on suspicion of wrongdoing.
Dassault Systèmes, based in Suresnes, France, and Siemens P.L.M.
Software produce computer tools for digitally designing and managing
Bernard Charlès, the chief executive of Dassault, said
that Siemens might not have actually sought the data but might have
received the files from a third party. Nonetheless, he said, business
ethics demand that a company return the data.
declined to identify anyone suspected of having illegally obtained the
data but said it appeared to have been a Dassault employee in Germany
who took confidential data when leaving the company. The employee left
Dassault on good terms, he said, but might have hoped to get a job at
He stressed that the data had been properly secured. “We did not lose those files,” Mr. Charlès said. “They were stolen.”
He said that the two companies had agreed to settle out of court and
that Dassault reserved the right to seek damages if further breaches
Tony Affuso, chief executive of Siemens P.L.M., did not respond to requests for an interview.
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