Fisker quietly settled trade secret spat with VW-backed battery company - The Verge

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Fisker Inc. and QuantumScape spent a year fighting in court on solid-state battery confidentiality

Fisker Inc. quietly reached a previously unreported trade secret lawsuit with QuantumScape, a solid-state battery company backed by Volkswagen, in July last year.

learned. The lawsuit was filed in the Santa Clara High Court in April 2019, and the focus of the lawsuit was on a former QuantumScape employee who brought thousands of confidential documents to Fisker Inc.'s new job at the end of 2018 and early 2019.

After the lawsuit was over, Fisker Inc. blocked these files and the work done by employees, and even blocked the "isolated" batteries she made while working at the company, even though the company ultimately argued that the information was in the public domain. . As part of the settlement, Fisker finally agreed to delete or destroy the documents that the employee carried with him. Fisker

It agreed to pay $750,000 in cash to settle the July 2020 claim for misappropriation of trade secrets, although it was not named QuantumScape.

The lawsuit was resolved at the same time as Fisker Inc.

, And a new modular electric vehicle platform for German automakers. However, due to the breakdown of negotiations between the two companies

. Since then, Fisker signed a contract with auto supplier Magna (Magna) to manufacture Ocean SUVs, and

Build the second car.

Volkswagen invested US$100 million in QuantumScape in 2018.

. However, the German car manufacturer has been cooperating with battery companies since 2012. QuantumScape, a spin-off company of Stanford, is one of many companies engaged in solid-state battery research. The company uses solid materials to replace the liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries. This solid-state material can help increase the energy density and charge faster. And reduce the risk of fire. Like Fisker Inc., QuantumScape merged with a special purpose acquisition company last year and is now publicly traded.

In 2019, Fisker Inc. postponed the production of a luxury sports car.

Because the technology is not ready yet. QuantumScape argued in the lawsuit that the employee, battery researcher Anna Choi and Fisker Inc. tried to use the information to "redirect the development of Fisker's thin-film ceramic electrolyte to its lithium-based batteries to mimic QuantumScape's batteries."

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QuantumScape described in the lawsuit how Choi brought confidential materials to Fisker Inc. before and after working at the EV startup, and she admitted that doing so was part of the settlement. QuantumScape also tried to persuade Choi to be instructed by Fisker Inc. executives to take away classified materials, including co-founder Geeta Gupta Fisker and Fabio Albano, then head of battery development. Gupta Fisker and Albano respectively denied this claim, while Fisker Inc. claimed that Choi was his own will.

Choi and QuantumScape did not respond to requests for comment. Albano's lawyers and Volkswagen spokespersons declined to comment. Henrik Fisker, the founder of Fisker Inc., declined to comment on the lawsuit in an interview.

.

According to the lawsuit, the trouble started when Choi gave Fisker Inc. a 52-slide PowerPoint, which was described in the heavily edited lawsuit as a key QuantumScape innovation and trade secret "virtual script", with "detailed formulas, Process and [and] "ingredients" — in an interview with this electric car startup on November 20, 2018.

QuantumScape’s lawyers wrote in a document: “After the interview, [Fisker Inc.] immediately began asking Choi for her “suggestion” on the equipment, suppliers, and prices.

QuantumScape further claimed that Choi "sent highly confidential QuantumScape materials via email to her personal Yahoo email account" on December 11-12, 2018. On December 14th, I met with Fisker Inc. again at the headquarters of an electric car startup in Torrance, California, and participated in a holiday party. Submit court documents.

On the same day, QuantumScape stated that Choi logged into the company's secure intranet system from an IP address "publicly associated with Fisker" and "viewed and downloaded dozens of highly confidential technical documents, which had been granted restricted access to her. "

Fisker Inc.’s legal team objected to this, arguing that QuantumScape extensively uses the term “trade secrets” to refer to public information about its battery technology, and “because QuantumScape has completely failed to reasonably protect its “trade secrets” secrets. The document shows that by allowing Choi "unrestricted and unmonitored access to its network."

Fisker Inc.’s lawyer wrote: “It was only accidental (because Choi quoted QuantumScape’s product number in the phone call with a third-party supplier), QuantumScape learned of Choi’s activities.” “Despite Choi’s unilateral In action, Fisker never wants any QuantumScape confidential information, nor does it use any QuantumScape non-public information."

A few weeks after the lawsuit was filed, Fisker Inc. fired Choi in April 2019. The much-touted battery expert Albano left Fisker Inc. in May 2019, although Fisker Inc. argued that he was fired in court documents. Since then, Albano filed an unreported breach of contract lawsuit against Fisker Inc. in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Since the settlement of the trade secret lawsuit, Fisker Inc. and QuantumScape have both gone public and raised amazing funds. Fisker Inc. goes public in October 2020

, Is now planning to use more traditional lithium-ion batteries in its vehicles.

QuantumScape went public in November 2020 and raised approximately US$700 million in the process. In December, it released the test results, showing its main obstacle to clearing the battery. The CEO of QuantumScape claims

He believes this is "the first solution to solid-state problems." Volkswagen

.

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