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Texas oil networking company files lawsuit for tortious interference, unfair competition

A lawsuit has been filed by a networking website for oil workers, claiming that a Texas man who founded the company stole data to launch a competing business.

Rigzone.com claims to host the resumes of over 2 million workers in the oil and gas industry. Workers post their resumes for free, and recruiters pay a fee for access. David W. Kent Jr. founded Rigzone in March 2000 and later sold it to DHI Group, subsequently starting Oilpro.com, a rival site. Rigzone and DHI Group sued Kent and Oilpro in federal court on June 10.

The lawsuit alleges that Kent owned approximately 70 percent of Rigzone when he sold it to DHI Group for $51 million in August 2010, while staying on as president under a consulting agreement. DHI Group claims that Kent received over $35 million from the sale, but the firm alleges that Kent set up a backdoor entry into Rigzone’s website and took its data.

According to the lawsuit, Kent set up Oilpro.com, a competing website, in 2013, posting an online timer that counted down to the minute when his non-compete agreement expired on Oct. 1, 2013. DHI Group also alleges that Kent convinced the core team that operated Rigzone to join him at Oilpro.

Kent was reported to have been arrested March 30 in Texas and faces federal criminal charges of conspiracy and wire fraud for allegedly hacking into Rigzone’s website. If found guilty, he could face up to 25 years in prison.

The lawsuit alleges that Kent sought to sell Oilpro to DHI Group for $20 million. According to the lawsuit, Kent wrote to the CEO of DHI Group saying that he built Oilpro with the purpose of selling it to them, saying that it “seemed to work for all parties before.”

Gregory D. Jordan is an Oil and Gas lawyer in Austin. To learn more, visit http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com or call 512-419-0684.

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