Mumbai: Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) has settled a dispute with three former executives it sued in March on charges of stealing critical data relating to recipe, ingredients and manufacture of several products.
On Monday, HUL and the defendants—Suyash Chauhan, a former managing director of Unilever Nepal Ltd; Hemal Jain, a former head of customer development at HUL’s centre of excellence; and Kishor Patil, a former sales and customer manager—jointly filed consent terms in the court to end the dispute.
“Both the parties have filed the consent terms," said justice S.J. Kathawala in his oral order, adding, “Data in the devices of the respondents that were collected by the court receiver will be deleted in the office of EY in the presence of all the parties. The process needs to be completed on or before 25 June," HUL had hired EY to investigate the issue.
“The ex-employees approached the company for an out-of-court settlement. The company agreed to settle the matter," said an HUL spokesperson in an email response to a Mint query. “Accordingly, consent terms were entered into and filed with the hon’ble high court. The terms of the settlement are confidential and we cannot comment on the same," he further added.
An emailed query to Destiny Endeavours, a company started by Chauhan and Jain, did not elicit any response. When contacted, Srishti Ojha, founder of boutique law firm Verist Law, who is advising Jain and Chauhan in the dispute, confirmed the out-of-court settlement.
The maker of Lipton Tea and Surf Excel had filed the case on 23 March in the Bombay high court for allegedly stealing data related to manufacturing of its products and other confidential information.
Mint first reported the dispute on 13 April.
HUL said the former executives were in possession of so-called bill of material containing critical and confidential HUL data such as recipe, ingredient, quantity and other materials used to manufacture its products.
This was proprietary information not available in the public domain, the company claimed.
On 27 March, the court had allowed HUL to engage EY and directed it to submit its report within two weeks. It also gave the respondents three weeks to file their replies and restrained them from using or sharing the confidential data.