Canoo accuses former employees of ‘corporate espionage’ after launching rival EV startup

Canoo (GOEV) is accusing several former employees of “corporate espionage,” alleging they stole trade secrets to launch a rival electric vehicle company.

Canoo was founded in 2017 to improve vehicle ownership with its breakthrough electric vehicles. A significant part of Canoo’s strategy revolves around its Multi-Purpose Platform (MPP), which serves as the base for its EV lineup, including its Lifestyle and Delivery vehicles, the Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle, and electric pickup truck.

The company has run into a few major roadblocks this year, expressing “significant doubt” it would be able to continue doing business after seeing its losses continue to pile up.

Canoo kept striving forward, attracting several significant supply agreements, including up to 10,000 Lifestyle Delivery Vehicles (LDVs) from Walmart. The EV startup has also delivered its vehicles to the US Army and NASA.

According to its most recently filed documents, Canoo has over $2 billion in orders, including $750 million binding. Despite the recent progress, Canoo has lost several employees over the past few months who then launched their own EV company, Harbinger. In a recently filed lawsuit, Canoo claims they have committed corporate espionage, stealing company secrets.

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Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle Adventure trim Source: Canoo

Canoo sues former employees over corporate espionage

On December 22, Canoo filed a 58-page lawsuit in the US Central District Court of California, alleging several of its former employees (and employees from other EV startups), including Harbinger’s CEO, CTO, COO, and the company itself, of stealing intellectual property, violating trade secret policies, and breaching separating agreements.

According to the filing unearthed this week, Canoo says Harbinger stole its electric vehicle platform technology (MPP), using it to compete in its market. The filing reads:

This is a case of corporate espionage by a group of serial grifters who infiltrated Canoo to steal its intellectual property.

The filing adds that the former employees “always intended” to steal the technology and use it as their own. A Canoo spokesperson explained, “as this lawsuit demonstrates, we take the protection of our IP seriously.”

Canoo is also accusing Harbinger of recruiting from the company’s employees. The company’s spokesperson continued:

This is not a case where a couple of employees left a company to work for a competitor. This is far worse. Using Canoo’s confidential information and trade secrets related to Canoo’s employees, including their skills and training, Harbinger strategically recruited at least 33 of Canoo’s employees to join Harbinger, making up approximately 66% of Harbinger’s total workforce.

Meanwhile, Harbinger is defending itself, as a spokesperson told Insider:

Harbinger and its co-founders have always operated with the utmost integrity and have never engaged in any actions that would give rise to this meritless lawsuit.

Harbinger did not provide further comment but added, “we are confident in our position and will vigorously defend ourselves against any baseless allegations brought forth by Canoo.”

Harbinger unveiled its “revolutionary EV platform” designed for medium-duty vehicles in September while naming former Tesla manufacturing VP Gilbert Passin as chief production officer earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Canoo recently received an up to $1 million incentive to produce electric cars and create high-paying manufacturing jobs out of its facility in Oklahoma City. Stay tuned for more on the Canoo-Harbinger lawsuit. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

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Avatar for Peter Johnson Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is covering the auto industry’s step-by-step transformation to electric vehicles. He is an experienced investor, financial writer, and EV enthusiast. His enthusiasm for electric vehicles, primarily Tesla, is a significant reason he pursued a career in investments. If he isn’t telling you about his latest 10K findings, you can find him enjoying the outdoors or exercising