Dyson claims rival Bosch placed mole within head office

Dyson DC12 vacuum cleaner
Image caption Dyson said it had spent more than £100m developing motors which powered its vacuums

Engineering firm Dyson has accused German rival Bosch of placing a mole within its headquarters in Wiltshire.

Sir James Dyson's company filed proceedings at the High Court claiming an employee passed company secrets to Bosch for up to two years.

The alleged spy was one of 100 engineers working on Dyson digital motors at its Malmesbury facility.

The motors are a key component in the firm's cordless technology and Airblade hand dryer.

Dyson also claims secrets were passed to Bosch's Chinese motor manufacturer and Bosch's vice president Dr Wolfgang Hirschburger was aware of the engineer's employment.

The firm said it had confronted Bosch with evidence of wrongdoing but it had refused to return the technology nor promised not to use the technology for its benefit.

'Immediate return'

Research and development director for Dyson Mark Taylor said: "We have spent over 15 years and £100m developing high-speed brushless motors, which power our vacuum cleaners and Airblade hand dryers.

"We are demanding the immediate return of our intellectual property."

Bosch Group, which has its UK base in Uxbridge, west London, issued a statement in response to the allegations.

It said: "Dyson employed an individual with a pre-existing consultancy agreement with Bosch Lawn and Garden Limited in relation to garden products, and not vacuum cleaners or hand dryers as Dyson implies.

"Bosch has sought to establish the full details of what occurred, including attempting to establish from Dyson what, if any, confidential information supposedly passed between Bosch and Dyson.

"Bosch regrets that Dyson has chosen to issue legal proceedings and a press statement at this stage, but will continue to act in the appropriate way."

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