Former Starwood executives Ross Klein and Amar Lalvani were recruited to Hilton in June following its acquisition by Blackstone Group. The lawsuit alleges that Klein and Lalvani - directly and through other Starwood employees recruited to Hilton - stole more than 100,000 electronic files before and after they joined Hilton, in violation of contractual and fiduciary duties. Among the allegedly stolen materials was confidential information about the W Hotels brand, which Starwood claims Hilton used in the development of its Denizen brand.

Starwood says it wanted to avoid taking the issue to court, but that "the egregiousness of the conduct and the volume of highly confidential documents taken left us no choice but to take this strong action to protect our brands and intellectual property for the benefit of our investors, associates, owners and customers," says Kenneth Siegel, Starwood