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Judge allows former DraftKings exec to join archrival Fanatics

The Boston betting firm alleged that a former senior vice president stole Super Bowl marketing plans

A former DraftKings executive can continue working at rival Fanatics, a judge ruled Thursday.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that a former top DraftKings executive who quit on February 1 to join one of the online betting company’s archrivals may continue working there.

DraftKings filed a lawsuit on Monday night to block Michael Hermalyn, its former senior vice president of business development, from working at Fanatics in California. The Boston-based company alleged that Hermalyn, who worked at DraftKings for three and a half years, had downloaded secret marketing plans for the upcoming Super Bowl and other confidential documents.

After a one-hour hearing in Boston, US District Judge Julia Kobick said she would issue a limited temporary restraining order prohibiting Hermalyn from using confidential information he retained from DraftKings or soliciting any DraftKings employees to work for Fanatics. But she rejected DraftKings’ request to block Hermalyn from his new job. (Hermalyn was not present in court.)

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The goal of the ruling was “to preserve the status quo until more of the facts can be determined,” Kobick said at the end of the hearing.

Hermalyn’s role at DraftKings involved wooing the biggest bettors on the service with dinners, tickets to sports events, and other perks. DraftKings alleged that before quitting and while visiting a Fanatics office in Los Angeles, Hermalyn downloaded DraftKings’ confidential spreadsheet with plans and contacts for dealing with VIP bettors, vendors, and business partners at the Super Bowl.

At the hearing, Hermalyn’s lawyers denied the executive had done anything wrong. Hermalyn looked at the Super Bowl plans, and another document to answer questions for DraftKings colleagues, Russell Beck, Hermalyn’s lawyer said. Hermalyn returned all DraftKings computer equipment to the company and even set aside his personal cellphone and email account with his lawyers before starting at Fanatics, Beck said.

Judge Kobick asked to hear from both sides on a more long-lasting preliminary injunction, with a hearing set for April 2.

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Aaron Pressman can be reached at aaron.pressman@globe.com. Follow him @ampressman.