[BreachExchange] Yogurt Wars Escalate as Dannon Sues Executive Who Jumped to Chobani

Audrey McNeil audrey at riskbasedsecurity.com
Fri Feb 23 15:27:36 EST 2018


Dannon Co on Wednesday sued a former high-level sales executive, accusing
him of stealing confidential details about the company's strategies and
salary data for its employees before jumping to yogurt-making rival Chobani

According to a complaint filed in federal court in White Plains, New York,
Federico Muyshondt stole trade secrets and other proprietary information,
including "roadmaps of Dannon's sales strategies for yogurt sales," in the
five months before his Jan. 16 resignation.

Muyshondt, of Mount Kisco, New York, had been a senior vice president
handling sales in the eastern United States and to supermarket chain Kroger
Co and resigned four days after receiving a "substantial six-figure bonus,"
Dannon said.

Muyshondt could not immediately be reached.

Chobani, based in Norwich, New York, is not a defendant. It did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit comes as Dannon, a White Plains-based unit of France's Danone
SA , tries to recapture sales from Chobani, whose Greek yogurt has made it
the top-selling brand in a shrinking $8.8 billion U.S. yogurt market.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an injunction against using
stolen materials.

Dannon alleged that Muyshondt began preparing for a possible move in
August, after attending a seminar featuring Chobani's chief operating

Dannon said he later forwarded details about the company's business plans
to a personal email account, downloaded thousands of files, and swapped a
SIM card that may have contained contact information for colleagues and
customers out of a company-issued iPhone.

Dannon said the stolen information included non-compete agreements for some
employees and email addresses for all Dannon employees connected with sales
teams Muyshondt oversaw.

"It is inevitable that he will disclose the misappropriated information to
Chobani, his new employer," Dannon said.

"It would be virtually impossible for Muyshondt to occupy a high-level
sales position at a direct competitor of Dannon without relying on the
confidential and proprietary information he gained while employed in the
same capacity by Dannon," it added.

The case is Dannon Co v Muyshondt, U.S. District Court, Southern District
of New York, No. 18-01567.
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