Groupon sues ex-employees who left for Google

Groupon has filed suit against two former employees for allegedly taking the daily deals site’s trade secrets with them to their new jobs at Google. Bloomberg was the first to report on the news.

In a lawsuit filed in Cook County, Illinois last week, Groupon accuses two former employees — Michael Nolan and Brian Hanna — of taking information they learned at Groupon to their new sales jobs at Google Offers, Google’s daily deals site. Michael Nolan worked at Groupon for approximately 16 months, from May 2009 up to September 2011. Brian Hanna worked at Groupon for about nine months, from January 2011 to September 2011.

Both Nolan and Hanna are relative newcomers to the workforce: According to their respective LinkedIn profiles, Nolan graduated from DePaul University immediately prior to joining Groupon in 2009, and Hanna graduated from Michigan State in 2008.

It’s an interesting turn of events for Groupon, which was widely reported to have turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google less than a year ago, in December 2010. Since then, Groupon has come into its own as a standalone company that is moving toward a much-buzzed-about initial public offering on the stock market.

When contacted today, a Google spokesperson said: “We’re not party to the suit and have not seen a copy of the complaint, so we cannot comment.” We’ve reached out to Groupon’s press department and its general counsel for comment on the lawsuit, and have yet to hear back.