Canoo, the California-based startup with the quirky yet appealing pill-shaped electric van concept, doesn’t even have vehicles on the road yet. The company may be close to death. But it’s currently preparing for a legal fight against a few of its former executives, and it sounds like it could get messy. Business Insider reports that the startup is suing some former company executives over what Canoo claims was a plan to steal company secrets and start a competing electric-vehicle company.
The suit names five former Canoo executives who all left the company and now serve on the board of a different EV startup called Harbinger. Harbinger hopes to make it in the lucrative commercial van business by building its own line of all-electric delivery vans. The accused also happen to have served as execs at some other EV startups, like Faraday Future. These guys seem to make the rounds. The suit names Harbinger CEO John Harris, CTO Phillip Weicker, COO Will Eberts, and Alexi Charbonneau, who is vice president of structures and chassis at Harbinger. A couple of other executives as well as 17 company investors are being sued as well.
In the suit filed December 22nd at the United States Central District Court of California, Canoo claims these former executives stole Canoo’s patented EV tech, namely the company’s skateboard platform, and are now using that platform as the basis for Harbinger’s commercial electric vans. Canoo further alleges that Weicker, Charbonneau, Eberts, and Harris all worked together and “misappropriated vast amounts of Canoo’s financial resources, business plans, human capital, trade secrets, and other intellectual property.”
Canoo is even claiming that Harbinger hand-picked certain Canoo employees to poach, knowing they would bring valuable insider knowledge to their new jobs. In a statement provided to Business Insider, Harbinger said that its founders “have always operated with the utmost integrity and have never engaged in any actions that would give rise to this meritless lawsuit.” Meanwhile, Canoo told the publication, “as this lawsuit demonstrates, we take the protection of our IP seriously.”