Scientific Conservation Sues Serious Energy Over Exec Poaching

by | Jul 28, 2011

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Energy software company Scientific Conservation has filed suit against its founder and the company he just joined, Serious Energy, alleging violation of trade secrets.

As we reported on Monday, John Pitcher jumped ship to join Serious Energy, a manufacturer of energy-efficient building components and software, as vice president of research and development. Chip Pieper, also formerly with Scientific, joined Serious’s software and services, business development and operations management team.

Now GreenTech Media reports that Scientific Conservation has filed suit in the Superior Court of Georgia, charging violations of trade secrets and breach of contract, among other allegations. Scientific filed its suit against Serious, Pitcher, and one other employee. “Scientific is currently combing its computer systems and databases to determine what Pitcher allegedly may have taken with him,” the website reported.

Pitcher is still a shareholder in Scientific, and his departure was “a complete surprise,” the company’s general counsel Dana Dufrane told GreenTech. “This action is necessary. We’ve been left with no choice but to do it,” Dufrane said.

Pitcher founded Scientific Conservation in 2007, and most recently served as its chief operating officer.

Serious Energy, which until last month was known as Serious Materials, is perhaps best known as the firm behind the complete refurbishment of all 6,514 windows in the Empire State Building, which has been Energy Star-certified for two years running. The company has also been moving into the software space, with the launch of cloud-based system SeriousEnergy Manager last autumn.

In a statement, Serious said, “While Serious Energy has not yet been made a party to the reported lawsuit, any such claims are entirely without merit. Serious Energy affirms the importance of the integrity of confidential and proprietary information to the innovation process. Indeed, as part of its own confidentiality agreement with employees – including the two accused employees – Serious Energy requires them to affirm that they will not improperly use or disclose the proprietary information or trade secrets of their former employers.”

“We believe there is no more urgent imperative than to innovate around our buildings,” Serious CEO Kevin Surace added. “We would have hoped Scientific Conservation would stay focused on their core business – instead of spending time clogging the legal system with groundless lawsuits. If employees are abandoning Scientific Conservation, then maybe Scientific Conservation needs to take a look at how they run their business and treat their employees.”

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