Eyewear market leader Luxottica I suing its largest rival, Specsavers, alleging the leaking of highly sensitive documents b y two former Luxottica employees.
In a statement issued by the company, Luxottica, the leading optical retailer in Australia, with 670 stores across the OPSM, Laubman & Pank, Budget Eyewear and Sunglass Hut brands, said:
“The proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court relate to the unlawful forwarding of proprietary Luxottica information to Specsavers by the departing employee, who had accepted a position with Specsavers. The material is unique to Luxottica and of great value to competitors if disclosed.
“Luxottica is seeking the return of all proprietary Luxottica documents obtained by Specsavers, and is suing the individual employees and Specsavers for damages.”
The proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court relate to the unlawful forwarding of proprietary Luxottica information to Specsavers by the departing employee, who had accepted a position with Specsavers
The company is also suing another former employee, making similar allegations regarding misappropriated documents.
In its statement of claim to the NSW Supreme Court, Luxottica said the material was “unique to Luxottica and of great value to competitors if disclosed”
Luxottica chief executive officer, Chris Beer, said the action against Specsavers was an important step in asserting Luxottica’s rights over key proprietary information and intellectual property.
“Luxottica welcomes competition in the optical marketplace, but we make a clear distinction between robust competitive behaviour and that which is unethical or unlawful. We are determined to safeguard proprietary material that has been developed over many years by some of the best optical professionals in the country,” Mr Beer said.
“For more than 75 years OPSM, now Luxottica, has traded successfully in Australia based on a reputation for service, quality and integrity. We will continue to uphold these values and would expect that our industry peers do the same.”
As for Specsavers, company founder Doug Perkins published an open letter to eye care professionals rejecting Luxottica’s allegations.
In the letter, Mr. Perkins said: “As you may be aware, Luxottica recently issued legal proceedings in the NSW courts against two of its former employees who have joined the Specsavers team and also against Specsavers. In keeping with Specsavers culture, we are giving our full support to the two former Luxottica employees in contesting the proceedings against them.
“Having investigated thoroughly the claim Luxottica has made against Specsavers, we regard the claim as being entirely without merit. Should Luxottica choose to pursue the matter against Specsavers, we will vigorously defend the proceedings. Indeed, my own belief is that the action Luxottica has commenced has been prompted by our success in breaking into the market and connecting so quickly with consumers.
“I also believe that this action provides a clear signal that Luxottica has been very plainly rattled over the pace of change in the Australian optical market since we opened the first Specsavers store in Melbourne in late February.”
He also backed his managing director, Peter Larsen, who recently said: “Specsavers regards the commencement of these proceedings against it as an unwarranted attempt by Luxottica to frustrate the growth of a new player in the industry in Australia”.
In an official company statement, Mr. Larsen said: “Having investigated the matter Specsavers regards the claim Luxottica has made against it as being entirely without merit.
“If Luxottica decides to pursue the matter further against Specsavers, it will vigorously defend the proceedings.
“Specsavers has not used and will not use the alleged information, irrespective of whether it is or is not unique to Luxottica. Specsavers has its own sophisticated and well-established business practices. It respects the intellectual property of other organisations and likewise expects other organisations to respect its own intellectual property rights.
“Specsavers understands that the departing Luxottica employee has made an offer to Luxottica which, if it had been accepted by Luxottica, would have addressed any concerns Luxottica may have had. However, inexplicably, Luxottica has not accepted that offer. Instead, it has elected to commence the court proceedings against Specsavers.
“Specsavers regards the commencement of these proceedings against it as an unwarranted attempt by Luxottica to frustrate the growth of a new player in the industry in Australia.”\Specsavers entered the Australian market this year with the promise of rolling out 150 stores around the country and undercutting the main player, Luxottica.