Starting in August 2009, the management team at Affymetrix (NASDAQ:AFFX) noticed what they believe is a curious pattern - a growing number of sales reps and tech personnel were leaving to join Pacific Biosciences (NASDAQ:PACB), a rival that also develops advanced analytical tools. And so Affymetrix has sued PacBio and 25 unnamed individuals for illegally soliciting at least 10 of its staffers, who allegedly signed confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements.
“We believe that this hiring pattern may reflect a conspiracy between Pacific Biosciences and current and former Affymetrix employees to interfere with Affymetrix’s contractual relations with its employees and to cause a breach of their fiduciary duties to Affymetrix,” wrote Wendy Lazerson of the Bingham McCutchen law firm to Pacific Biosciences general counsel Matt Murphy in a Sept. 23 letter.
Timing is everything, of course. The lawsuit, which you can read here, was filed just days after Pacific Biosciences announced plans for an initial public offering - 12.5 million shares will be priced at $16 (see this). A spokeswoman for PacBio has not returned a call.