eVTOL-developer Wisk files injunction against rival Archer


Wisk Aero has filed an injunction against rival eVTOL-developer Archer Aviation which if granted will force Archer to hand over trade secrets Wisk alleges were stolen by an employee in the latest development in the ongoing legal case.

If granted by the US District Court in San Francisco, the injunction could severely hamper Archer’s planned development of its five seater eVTOL because it also prevents the company from using them in its aircraft’s design and manufacture.

Wisk filed a lawsuit against Archer in April, which stated it was to file the injunction.

The latest legal documents give some information about the 52 trade secrets that Wisk alleges have been stolen and names one of the employees it believes responsible. “The trade secrets contained in the files downloaded by Archer employees span the gamut of systems used within the aircraft, such as propulsion, electrical, power distribution and management, avionics, and flight control, as well as information that could be used to manufacture the aircraft”, says the injunction.

It also names former Wisk employee Jing Xue as one of 11 former employees hired by Archer between November 2019 and January 2020 as the subject of an FBI investigation into the improper downloading of 5,000 files including the trade secrets and now in use by Archer, onto a personal device.

Wisk said, “The theft of our highly confidential files, the virtual copy of Wisk’s design from a confidential patent application, and Archer’s startlingly short operational history make clear that Archer’s program is built on Wisk’s intellectual property, as we outlined in our complaint.

“With our motion for a preliminary injunction we are asking the Court to stop Archer from using valuable trade secrets stolen from Wisk. These trade secrets span the gamut of systems within the aircraft and processes for development.

“We look forward to presenting our case to the Court. We will continue to cooperate with the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice on their criminal investigation into Archer relating to the theft and use of Wisk’s intellectual property.”

Archer denies the allegations and intends to defend itself “vigorously”. The company said, “This a baseless motion in a baseless lawsuit.  Archer independently designed its aircraft, before any employees from Wisk joined Archer, and Archer looks forward to demonstrating that in court.  Archer is moving forward with its business plans, including the development, certification and production of its proprietary aircraft.”

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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