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Ocado and former founder in bitter row over allegations of corporate 'spying'

A bitter row has erupted between the former founders of Ocado, after it emerged the retail technology company decided to sue its co-founder Jonathan Faiman following accusations of corporate spying and conspiracy.

Faiman left the company in 2010 and went onto set up a new grocery delivery venture - Today Development Partners (TDP).

Ocado is suing Faiman alleging he induced another senior Ocado executive, to join TDP and help establish it as a direct competitor to Ocado - who it alleges took confidential information with him to TDP.

Speaking to The Times, the chairman of Ocado Lord Rose of Monewden said the retailer “will go to any lengths” to protect its intellectual property 

He added: “Anyone who reads the court submissions will appreciate how serious this issue is. This is corporate espionage. We have been subject to corporate theft.”

However, TDP, claims Ocado is overacting. A TDP spokesperson told the paper: “Ocado’s use of terms like ‘espionage’ is ludicrous and symptomatic of their approach. As we set out in court papers, we believe they are using exaggerated allegations to justify a disproportionate attack. We will prove that our business is not built on their IP: we are building something better and different.”

TPD struck a deal with Waitrose in May to replace Ocado. However, earlier this month Waitrose ended that arrangement.

Catherine Shuttleworth, CEO Savvy, told Essential Retail: “It’s imperative that businesses with IP protect it especially from employees that move on. This seems to be the crux of this case. Increasingly tech solutions and platforms will be defining commercial differences between competitor businesses and Ocado and others must protect it and their customer and client data. 

“As Ocado move to be a platform business as opposed to a retailer they have to demonstrate that they will do everything they can to protect their business."

She added: "These cases are never pretty and the details don’t always make for easy reading. Perhaps this sheds light on why Waitrose ended their relationship so quickly last week with the Today partnership.”