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Portable Holes Inc
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It's As Old As The Silk Trade
From The Desk Of Drumlin S Boulder

Well its been one of those mornings!

Stacking Pits & Cavities, major rivals in our market space, got wind of some of our corporate research  activities and they’re crying foul, claiming we stole confidential, competitive information which we used to develop a new add-on to our Portable Holes control unit. We were served papers this morning. Plus they put out a news release to our local newspaper, who’ve sent a reporter out to talk to me. He’s in reception now being pampered and softened up by Sophia, our Manager of First Impressions.

Now corporate espionage is as old as the silk trade and we of course insist we’ve done nothing illegal. Sure we practice dumpster dunking, but since they don’t seem to want to keep their containers on their own property, we feel their garbage on public property is fair game for a periodic sort.

I guess what tipped them off is that for the fourth time in a row, we beat them to the market with an innovation. This time it was new volume transponders that made our Portable Holes really kick butt. And The Eureka was an extension to our trans-couplers that solved more of the types of issues their innovation claimed solve, clumsily I'll add derisively and proud of our Slide Rule .

But I guess they got suspicious, and apparently someone photographed our guy Pronto in white coveralls, stepping out of his pick up truck and taking some of their garbage away. Or so the lawsuit says. I haven’t yet seen the picture but I’m sure Pronto looks good on it. He is our most photogenic employee.

Now I’m not sure why they’re crying foul. We think that every competitor worth their salt knows what’s going on in their markets almost as soon as it happens, and anyway, if the material we found was so confidential, they should have hired one of those mobile paper shredding companies like we do.

“Besides“, I said to our lawyer, Marvin Bezzle, “we don’t resort to every dirty trick in the book, like lying, stealing, breaking in, or pretending we’re head hunters and interviewing their staff. We keep things simple and, well, almost clean.”

“And”, I added, “we look after our confidential information. Paper gets shredded, we tell our employees not to speak to strangers in bars, or on business flights.” I learned that one some years while in the airport lounge for a flight home from a trade show. I heard two guys talking about multi flanges, components used a lot in our industry. Since these items have limited uses, I lifted the newspaper I was reading to hide myself and listened as they merrily let me in on some big orders they were chasing… which we later won because I'd learned their strategy.

We also know where to get good information legitimately. We do internet searches, study sales brochures, and we talk to our customers about what our competitors are good at. At trade shows we express a sincere interest in our competitor’s products, and sometimes eager and excited sales people give us what we want…of course we know what to ask for.

I do admit crossing the line somewhat once with a US company, but boy they were dumb. My buddy Geldmus had just bought one of those early big beta cams, and I decided it was just what I needed for a plant tour. I called them and lied, claiming to be a reporter wanting to interview their CEO, which, being the swelled head I’d heard he was, he immediately set a date for. We walked all around his plant, talking to him while videotaping equipment, schedules, and assorted other little gems. He was so busy trying to be a star that he never noticed what we were doing. He even fed us lunch in their executive dining room. Last I heard the company had been sold to a rival and he was working as the team mascot for their local AAA baseball team. I guess show business was in his blood.

But with Stacking Pits & Cavities, public property dumpster dunking is what we've done best.

We’ve found used travel tickets that told us where they‘d been, appointment calendars that told us who they’d seen, company newsletters with announcements, policy-meeting drafts and so on, all filled with project data, details about people, and other good information. With enough scraps like those, I can put together all I need to know to cause a lot of damage. If Stacking Pits and Cavities puts it all together in an easy to carry away container and leaves it on public property, it is an obvious signal the consider it garbage or at list place little value on it. You'd think they'd shred it if they cared.

Which brings us back to the case in point.

“The courts generally look at to what extent the disputed information was known to company insiders and those outside of the company, how carefully the information was guarded, its value to competitors, how much time, effort and money was invested in it, and how easy it was to get” Marvin explained to me, “So as long as you did not trespass, or commit any illegal act, you should be fine.”

“Can I call them weenies for complaining? ”, I asked, eager for an opportunity to make them look ridiculous, but Marvin advised against it. He gave me the following statement to give to the press. “Portable Holes Inc denies any wrongdoing in the matter raised by Stacking Pits & Cavities and will vigorously defend itself against this lawsuit which it firmly believes is without merit“.

I thanked him for the words, lamented the opportunity to do business with him, and wrote some notes down on my scratch pad.

Then I called Sophia to stop impressing the reporter and send him in.

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