Several past employees allegedly stole IP secrets to start Harbinger Motors.
Electric vehicle startup Canoo is accusing several former executives of corporate espionage by joining the company only to steal its trade secrets only then to start their own rival carmaker. According to Insider, Canoo filed a 58-page lawsuit on December 22 in the United States Central District Court of California against those now-former employees who joined forces in September to form Los Angeles-based Harbinger Motors.
The latter company is led by other executives who worked for other EV automakers, including Faraday Future and QuantumScape. Harbinger aims to enter the commercial EV market in the medium-duty, Class 4 through 7 segments.
Canoo named, along with several investors, its former vice president of corporate legal, securities, and global strategy, Michael Fielkow, who now serves as Harbinger's general counsel and head of corporate development.
All told, Canoo has 17 claims against those Harbinger employees, including breach of confidentiality and fraud. Canoo accuses Harbinger of stealing its EV technology, specifically its "skateboard" flat platform.
"This is a case of corporate espionage by a group of serial grifters who infiltrated Canoo to steal its intellectual property (including its confidential information and trade secrets) and human capital," the filing states. The executives "always intended to own and control their own EV company. And they were determined to do so without letting anything get in their way," the suit says. It further accuses Harbinger of recruiting its employees.
Harbinger allegedly recruited at least 33 Canoo employees, roughly 66% of Harbinger's total workforce. Not surprisingly, Harbinger calls Canoo's suit "meritless."
It goes on to counter that "while we cannot provide further comment at this time, we are confident in our position and will vigorously defend ourselves against any baseless allegations brought forth by Canoo."
Canoo, which survived a near-death experience not long ago, has managed to secure agreements with the likes of NASA, Walmart, and the US military to supply variants of its EV van, which is unlike anything else on the market, including high-profile EVs like the GMC Hummer and Ford F-150 Lightning.
Canoo began production of its EV van in November and aims to have 15 units built by the end of the year.