Upstart digital camera pioneer sues its entrenched rival for allegedly hacking emails
Shots are being fired in the world of the digital camera.
California-based Red Digital Cinema alleges that a former executive at Delaware-based Arri engaged in corporate espionage when he hacked into the email server of a third camera company, according to a complaint Red filed Dec. 21 in U.S. District Court in California.
According to the lawsuit, which was obtained by TheWrap, Red alleges Arri used the hacked emails to give its Alexa camera a competitive advantage over Red's Epic camera.
Red alleges unfair competition based on email hacking, invasion of privacy, conversion, misappropriation of trade secrets and unlawful trade practices, among other charges.
In September, Michael Bravin, Arri's ex-VP of market development for digital camera products, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing the email server of Band Pro Film & Digital while he was employed at Arri.
Bravin, who had previously worked for Band Pro, was charged with computer fraud and email hacking and, following a plea agreement, was sentenced to two years' probation, among other penalties.
Now, Red says some of the emails Bravin copied had sensitive information about the company's technology, including the Epic camera. Some of the emails were from Red personnel including founder Jim Jannard, Red also alleges.
At the time of the hacking, Red was allegedly in confidential business discussions with Band Pro, discussing a potential joint venture. Arri employees — including Chief Technology Officer Glenn Kennel and Vice President of Camera Products Bill Russell — were aware Bravin was engaging in the hacking, Red says. Therefore, Arri is liable, according to Red.
"Red is informed and believes, and thereupon alleges, that Bravin saved or forwarded, either directly or verbally, the information obtained from the Band Pro emails to other Arri executives and employees," the suit says.
Additionally, Red alleges that Arri started a false advertising campaign leading up to the launch of the Alexa camera, and that Bravin — using his real name and a pseudonym — posted on a Red blog, RedUser.net, disparaging the company's products. Red says one of the Web-blog board's policies is that users do not use false names.
Red is seeking damages, disgorgement, restitution and injunctive relief. The company is seeking a jury trial.
"It was quite shocking to them, that the vice president of Arri would steal business emails for use at Arri," lawyer Gregory L. Weeks, who represents Red, told TheWrap.
A representative for Arri did not respond to TheWrap's request for comment.
Movies including "The Hobbit," "Prometheus" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" were shot with Red cameras. (Pictured above is "Hobbit" director Peter Jackson with a Red camera.)
"Hugo," "Pariah" and "New Year's Eve" were shot with Arri cameras.
Additional reporting by Pamela Chelin.