Disney claims CFO Thomas Staggs' identity stolen to gain confidential documents

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Disney claims CFO Thomas Staggs' identity stolen to gain confidential documents

Wed Nov 04, 2009 @ 06:23AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Thomas_staggs See any odd comments in the press lately from Disney CFO Thomas Staggs?

Perhaps they didn't actually come from Staggs, but rather an alleged ID thief who purported to be Staggs using a very unsophisticated trick — registering an email address "tom.staggs22@gmail.com".

Two weeks ago, Disney asked the California Superior Court to permanently enjoin unnamed defendants from using the name "Tom Staggs" and engaging in misleading conduct. Disney is not certain of the perpetrator — even whether there's only one person involved in the identity theft— but the lawsuit offers some tantalizing clues to an unfolding mystery:

Clue #1: Disney identifies the defendant as an unnamed individual or group residing in the Los Angeles judicial circuit.

Clue #2: The defendant allegedly tried to "obtain confidential and proprietary business information and obtain an unfair business advantage" by e-mailing Disney employees including Staggs' underlings.

Clue #3: The defendant wanted information relating to an entity in which affiliates of Disney are members. (Perhaps a trade association?)

Clue #4: The defendant wanted to harm Disney's reputation, sending emails to members of the press and financial community implying that Disney was engaged in financially irresponsible business ventures.

Beyond that, the lawsuit is very vague. No word on specific damage caused by the perpetrator, whether Disney employees took the bait or what exactly was printed in the press. We expect that if Disney is able to identify the individuals or entities involved in the unlawful allegations, the company would fill in some of the blanks with an amended complaint.

In the meantime, Disney is seeking an enjoinment, punitive damages, and further relief on grounds of violation of the right of publicity, fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets, and unfair competition. Read the startling complaint here.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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