A US district judge ruled that Starwood had presented sufficient evidence to allow the case against Hilton to go ahead.
Starwood said the executives, Ross Klein and Amar Lalvani, who were in charge of developing its luxury hotels, including the W brand, before moving to Hilton in 2008, accessed its computer files without authorization and stole hundreds of thousands of documents with confidential information.
Hilton had sought to dismiss the case on legal grounds and have all of Starwood's clains be settled through arbitration
"Today's decision by the Court is a procedural ruling that has no impact on the ultimate outcome of the case or what the plaintiff must prove if the case goes to trial," Hilton said in a statement. "The ruling merely allows the case to move forward to the next phase."
Starwood had sued Hilton in April 2009, accusing Klein and Lalvani of working to develop a new Hilton hotel line called Denizen, using confidential information from Starwood.
By Janet Harmer
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