UPDATE with statement from Hill's lawyer/ TD Bank, the Toronto company that bought the former Commerce Bank of Marlton five years ago, has sued Commerce founder Vernon Hill, claiming he stole his own manuscript - which TD said it took over when it bought Commerce - to publish his own book, Fans! Not Customers: How to Create Growth Companies in a No-Growth World."
The copyright infringement suit, filed in US District Court in Camden by TD lawyer William Tambussi - who also represented Commerce when Hill was the boss - claims Hill copied a 2007 manuscript he left behind when he left the bank for his new book.
The bank accuses Hill of causing "irreparable harm" by publishing Fans! Not Customers, which describes Hill concepts like "retail-tainment," or hiring jugglers to perform at dance openings; how to develop a sense of "Wow!" among workers and customers through promotions and parties; and practices like allowing dogs into bank branches, to attract pet owners in animal-crazy neighborhoods like Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square and Manhattan's Upper West Side.
UPDATE: Hill’s legal counsel, Howard Hogan of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, sends this statement: "TD Bank’s copyright infringement suit against Mr. Hill is only the bank’s latest anti-competitive effort to silence Mr. Hill.
"The idea that copyright law can be used to prevent Mr. Hill from telling his own story is ludicrous. The book that Mr. Hill has published is a book about Metro Bank and Mr. Hill’s business philosophies—ideas that he has been expressing publicly for decades. TD Bank does not and cannot own ideas.
"This lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to extract concessions on the millions of dollars that TD Bank owes Mr. Hill in an entirely separate lawsuit, where TD Bank has no defense."
EARLIER: TD says it acquired a draft of Hill's planned book when the bank acquired Commerce assets, a year after Hill stepped down as CEO under pressure from bank regulators who had been investigating bank contracts to firms controlled by Hill and his wife. The investigation was later dropped without charges.