HILTON HEAD

Sea Pines and local company in legal battle

gsmith@islandpacket.comJanuary 11, 2013 

Dueling lawsuits have been filed between Sea Pines Resort and a local software-development company that rebuilt the resort's website.

Performance Development Corp. of Hilton Head Island alleges one of its former employees conspired with Sea Pines Resort to steal PDC's intellectual property, source code, booking engines and custom software so the resort could continue to book lucrative online golf tee times, tennis lessons, villa rentals, hotel rooms and other accommodations without PDC's help.

Sea Pines Resort denies all of the allegations in the suit filed in December in Beaufort County. The resort has also filed its own suit against PDC, alleging it and another company misused confidential email addresses and other contact information for potential and existing resort visitors.

PDC created the software for the resort's website in 2008, according to the lawsuit filed by Richard Neste, PDC chief operating officer. The updated website let visitors book hotel rooms, tee times and other resort offerings without calling the resort, Neste said.

The company worked for Sea Pines Resort for about five years, increasing online rental revenue more than eight times, according to a testimonial from a resort executive listed on PDC's website.

The resort was interested in purchasing PDC, according to the lawsuit. During negotiations, a PDC employee left the company, took the software with him and went to work for the resort, cutting PDC out of the deal, the lawsuit claims. Although Sea Pines Resort was licensed to use the software, it did not own it, Neste alleges.

"The situation is unfortunate," Neste said Thursday.

Sea Pines Resort president Steve Birdwell said the resort "vehemently denies all allegations made by PDC."

In November, the resort sued PDC and Foundation Realty, a real estate brokerage company owned by Neste. The suit alleges the companies misused email addresses and other contact information for more than 82,000 potential and existing resort visitors. Such information is confidential and owned by the resort, according to the suit.

"We look forward to a successful resolution of this matter, either through continued discussions with Foundation Realty and PDC or by aggressively pursuing the lawsuit through the Beaufort County court system," Birdwell said.

Neste denies the claim against PDC and Foundation Realty.

No court date has been set for either lawsuit.

PDC has requested a jury trial for the suit it has filed.

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