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Business

East End Website battle in court

The publisher of two East End Websites has sued its former manager in federal court, claiming he used the company’s assets to launch competing North Fork and Hamptons sites.

The publisher Hamptons Online, in court papers, says its former manager Robert Florio took proprietary computer source code and advertising client information, poached key employees—then used them for the competing sites.

"Competition brings out the best and the worst in people,” Florio said in response to the accusations. “We are excited to offer Hamptons Vue and North Fork Vue and are proud of the new products and vision we have developed for these regional markets. We care very much about the communities these publications serve. We see no basis for the complaint and our attorneys will be filing an answer shortly contesting all of these claims and including various counterclaims. There should be no rush to judgment since the full story has yet to be told."

Florio on Friday did not immediately respond to a message left for him at the phone number listed for his company, Vue Master Media, LLC., of Southampton Village.

Hamptons Online claims copyright infringement, trade secrets misappropriation, unfair competition, breach of duty and libel, according to the court papers. The suit was first reported on the Website 27East.com.

From 2000-2009 Florio was Hamptons Online’s manager, overseeing the maintenance and development of Hamptons.com and Northfork.com, court papers say.

But within months after he was fired on Sept. 9 Florio launched hamptonsvue.com and northforkvue.com sites, using his former employer’s valuable source code, the papers say.

He also hired Hamptons Online’s executive editor, staff writer and advertising saleswoman, who provided Florio with ad sales data and other business information, the records say.

Florio owes his former employer more than $100,000 in “unsupported” expense reimbursements and more than $50,000 in loans from the employer, the court records say. Further, Florio misappropriated numerous domain names – and a Volkswagen bus, the records say.

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