Legal fight between Cisco and Swiss firm continues with latest data theft accusations

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A Swiss IT services firm, which has a tumultuous legal history with Cisco, has accused the tech giant of stealing thousands of its files containing intellectual property.

On Tuesday, Multiven announced in a press release that “proprietary and copyrighted data” from its database called, “mySolvr,” was gleaned by Cisco using “automated cyber scraping software.”

The firm accused Cisco of doing this on at least four occasions between December 2009 and January 2010. It didn't, however, find any evidence that customer or user passwords had been accessed in the alleged incident.

“Multiven's subsequent investigation revealed that the theft involved over 53,000 'requests' that originated from three internet protocol (IP) addresses assigned to Cisco Systems, Inc., headquartered in San José, California,” the release said.  

Back in 2008, Multiven filed an antitrust lawsuit against Cisco, accusing the company of monopolizing the marketplace by making essential patches for its software available only to customers of its SMARTnet service. The suit was eventually settled in 2010.

Multiven's CEO, Peter Alfred-Adekeye, is a former employee of Cisco. He has rehashed the long-held antitrust grievances with the company.

“Start-ups and young enterprises are key to turning around the current global economic downturn,” Alfred-Adekey said in a statement. “However, for them to succeed, the law must protect their intellectual property from monopolistic organizations that abuse their dominant positions to stifle competition, innovation and consumer choice for their selfish gain.”

Multiven threatened to pursue legal action unless Cisco issued a public apology by March 29, and also confirmed in writing that it would not use the alleged “stolen data” for its “future products and services.” The firm also requested confirmation in writing that Cisco would permanently delete all copies of the data belonging to Multiven.

Another knot in the two companies' legal entanglement: Alfred-Adekeye is under federal indictment for allegedly accessing confidential data belonging to Cisco.

The indictment, filed in a U.S. District court in San Jose, Calif. in August 2011, accuses him of using a Cisco employee's credentials to access the company's data between September 2005 and July 2007.

“Peter Alfred-Adekeye accessed a protected computer without authorization and with an intent to defraud… the proprietary network of Cisco, and thereby obtained information from said protected computer that exceeds $5,000 in value…” the indictment alleged.

SCMagazine.com reached out to Cisco, but did not immediately hear back. A Cisco spokesperson did tell IT Pro, however, that Multiven's claims were "yet another false accusation."

"The only access that Cisco has ever had to Multiven content is through its website, which is readily available to the general public," the spokesperson said.

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