The legal team defending Archer Aviation against allegations of intellectual property theft made by rival eVTOL aircraft developer Wisk says that the plaintiff filed a patent application for its “sixth-generation” design in January 2020 only after it was made aware of Archer’s tilting rotor design. In a new filing with the federal court for the Northern District of California, Archer’s leadership team says that Wisk was made aware of its design by senior engineer Geoff Long following a recruitment meeting on Dec. 9, 2019.
In the filing, made late on June 23 in opposition to Wisk’s earlier motion for a preliminary injunction, Archer’s attorneys also cite testimony from its chief operating officer Tom Muniz that at the time he left Wisk he “was unaware of any development project or efforts by Wisk for a tilting rotor aircraft of any configuration.” They claim that after being told about Archer’s plans by Long, Wisk “quickly filed an application that included the very designs Archer had disclosed to Wisk.”
Archer’s defense in a case set to start in San Francisco on July 7 also disputes Wisk’s accusation that another former Wisk employee, Jing Xue, stole thousands of files before leaving the company and shared intellectual property with his new employer. The company says that Wisk’s allegations are based on nothing more than speculation, insisting that it has done “exhaustive forensic investigation” to determine that “not a single Wisk document exists at Archer.”
Wisk firmly refutes the latest rebuttals from the rival eVTOL start-up. “Archer’s latest filing is full of inaccuracies and attempts to distract from the serious and broad scope of misappropriate claims it faces,” the company said in a written statement on June 24. “The filing changes nothing. We look forward to continuing our case in court to demonstrate Archer’s improper use of Wisk’s intellectual property.”
According to sources familiar with the case, Xue is the subject of a federal investigation and has been issued with subpoenas and a search warrant. The current status of this investigation has not been officially confirmed. In its latest filing, Archer says that the company is not “the target of an FBI or Justice Department criminal investigation.”