Wisk Aero, the air mobility firm borne out of a three way partnership between Kitty Hawk and Boeing, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in opposition to Archer Aviation alleging patent infringement and commerce secret misappropriation.
Wisk claims within the lawsuit that Archer perpetrated a “brazen theft” of confidential info and mental property. The lawsuit factors to the design of Archer’s first electrical plane that was launched in February, which Wisk says is a replica of certainly one of its potential designs. That design was submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Workplace in January 2020, and Wisk alleges the similarities are too quite a few to have been a coincidence.
Wisk additional claims that in a forensic investigation it opened after Archer employed 10 former Wisk engineers, a kind of hires secretly downloaded 1000’s of recordsdata earlier than his departure. One other engineer additionally downloaded recordsdata, the swimsuit alleges.
The knowledge contained within the stolen recordsdata contains techniques designs, take a look at knowledge and plane designs, Wisk said in a blog posted Tuesday.
“As our Grievance explains, the design Archer disclosed above displays its insider information of Wisk’s in depth aerodynamic take a look at and analysis knowledge based mostly on years of experimentation and modeling,” the corporate mentioned within the weblog submit. “The similarity in general plane design additional signifies Archer’s use of extra detailed design options, together with options associated to plane propulsion, energy administration, avionics, flight management and manufacturing methodology.”
Archer has snagged some main wins in 2021, together with an announcement in February that it might merge with particular objective acquisition firm Atlas Crest Funding Corp. for an fairness valuation of $3.8 billion. Additionally in February, the Palo Alto, California-based startup landed a $1 billion order with United Airways as a buyer and investor.
“It’s regrettable that Wisk would have interaction in litigation in an try and deflect from the enterprise points which have precipitated a number of of its staff to depart,” an Archer spokesperson mentioned in an e-mail to TechCrunch. The plaintiff raised these issues over a yr in the past, and after wanting into them totally, we now have no cause to consider any proprietary Wisk expertise ever made its approach to Archer. We intend to defend ourselves vigorously.”
The Archer spokesperson added that the corporate has “positioned an worker on paid administrative go away in reference to a authorities investigation and a search warrant issued to the worker, which we consider are targeted on conduct previous to the worker becoming a member of the corporate. Archer and three different Archer staff with whom the person labored even have acquired subpoenas regarding this investigation, and all are absolutely cooperating with the authorities.”
In response to the information of a prison investigation, a Wisk spokesperson mentioned, “We’re conscious of Archer’s disclosure of a prison investigation into this matter and are absolutely cooperating with the federal government. We’ve no additional remark right now.”
The swimsuit was filed with the California Northern District Court docket below case no. 5:21-cv-02450.
The story was up to date to incorporate further remark from Wisk on the prison investigation.