Lawsuit Alleges Two Company Execs Knew About VP's Email Hacking

Red Digital Cinema (RED) has hit ARRI Inc. and its ex-employee Michael Bravin with a lawsuit alleging "corporate espionage" on ARRI's part. In the 32-page complaint, RED says Bravin, a former executive at both ARRI and reseller Band Pro, accessed private email correspondence between Band Pro head Amnon Band and RED honcho Jim Jannard that included proprietary information about RED's then-unreleased EPIC camera as well as details of RED's efforts to buy Band Pro.
In the complaint, RED goes so far as to blame Bravin’s actions for its eventual decision not to purchase Band Pro. The lawsuit alleges unfair competition based on email hacking, invasion of privacy, misappropriation of trade secrets, false advertising, unfair competition, unlawful trade practices, and more.

The lawsuit seems to have been first reported by the Courthouse News Service, which published a detailed summary of the complaint, including a PDF copy. (Scroll down and click the document icon at the bottom of the article.)

News of the scandal first broke in September 2010, when reports spread of a visit by federal agents to ARRI’s offices in Burbank as part of an investigation of unauthorized access to a computer system. About a year later, Bravin signed a plea agreement in which he admitted to accessing Band’s emails after leaving Band Pro and while he was working at ARRI as VP of market development for digital-camera products. That agreement did not mention ARRI. The other shoe dropped with the filing of RED’s suit, which alleges that ARRI President and CEO Glenn Kennel and VP of Camera Products Bill Russell had “firsthand knowledge” of Bravin’s activities, and that Bravin forwarded Band’s email “on more than one occasion … to colleagues at ARRI.”

The lawsuit alleges a campaign against RED on the part of ARRI, including what it says were pseudonymous posts by Bravin at meant to promote the ARRI Alexa under the name “Ed Carlton.” A Google search turns up several postings by a user with that name who was active from July 14 to July 23, 2010. (One passage in the document described a July 2010 meeting at Red Studios Hollywood where RED’s Jannard and Land are claimed to have confronted Bravin, Kennel and Russell about that allegation.) RED also alleges several instances of “false advertising,” mostly related to statements at the ARRI website about the imaging capabilities of its D-21 and Alexa cameras.

RED goes so far as to cite behind-the-scenes frustrations on the production of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which switched from the RED ONE to the Alexa partway through shooting, as evidence. RED’s lawsuit claims ARRI personnel handling camera tech support caused problems on the shoot by hot-swapping cables on the RED. “Anyone with ordinary skill in the industry would know not to hot-swap cables on a digital-cinema camera while filming,” RED claims in its suit, further alleging, “these acts were purposely taken to cause damage to the camera.”

Jannard posted at to threaten a lawsuit against ARRI upon Bravin’s sentencing in September, writing, “My full-time job is now dealing with Michael Bravin and ARRI. Nothing else.” Jannard stepped forward again last week to say, among other things, “My bet is that we won’t be the only plaintiff.”

An ARRI representative did not respond immediately to our request for comment.