Now Ally is accusing Santander Consumer USA Inc. of violating Ally's copyright on documents in order to speed development of products and services for Chrysler and avoid a $150 million accounting penalty for missing agreed upon targets and deadlines.
Ally sued Santander for copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets on Sept. 13 in U.S. District Court in Detroit. Ally asked the court to prevent Chrysler Capital from "imitating, copying or making use of" the copyrighted forms.
Ally alleges in the complaint that when Santander got into new business lines and services it didn't previously offer, Santander "embarked on a deliberate and intentional program to improperly take what it needed from Ally to service the Chrysler dealers." That included substituting the Chrysler Capital name for Ally's on several of Ally's copyrighted forms and "falsely claiming them as a copyrighted work" of Santander, Ally says.
Santander "elected to take a short cut rather than do the hard work that was required to develop the comprehensive, foundational auto finance platform needed to service the Chrysler dealerships and consumers on the scale contemplated by, and contracted with, Chrysler," according to the complaint, which seeks unspecified damages.
Ally also alleges that Santander hired many of its employees, "who have or will inevitably use and disclose Ally trade secret and confidential information." One Ally employee, according to the complaint, took Ally's "Retail Procedures Manual" when he left. The manual, Ally says, details "how Ally conducts its consumer financing business."
Laurie Kight, a spokeswoman for Chrysler Capital, declined to comment.
Chrysler Capital provides Chrysler Group dealers with leases, prime and subprime loans, floorplan and other services.
Chrysler phased out its four-year deal to steer incentive money to Ally in April. As required by the contract, Chrysler notified Ally a year in advance it would not renew the existing agreement.
Ally still finances a lot of Chrysler customers, but its incentivized volume with Chrysler fell 71 percent in the second quarter, and its standard-rate business for Chrysler dropped 9 percent.
According to the complaint, Ally submitted a bid to remain Chrysler's preferred lender, but Chrysler opted instead for Santander Consumer USA, which specialized in subprime lending.