Andy Rubin's Essential sued by Tony Fadell's Keyssa over trade secrets

When you make big noise, make big claims, and use big names, you naturally paint a big target on your back as well, especially legal ones. Most big companies like Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Apple are lawsuit magnets and usually just brush them off usually. Smaller startups, however, might have a harder time, especially when the plaintiff has an equally big name behind it. That's the situation that Essential, founded by Android creator Andy Rubin, has found itself in when it was sued by Keyssa, backed by iPod co-creator Tony Fadell, over the alleged theft of trade secrets.

Keyssa might not be a familiar name to many, but records show that it has been working on a certain type of wireless communication technology since 2009. This mostly involves data transfer without the use of Wi-Fi but still more reliable than Bluetooth or NFC. Keyssa claims to have partnered with a few fabrication companies to make its special chip, but so far it hasn't made any big splash yet.

The Essential PH-1 would have been its big debut in a sense. But Essential has allegedly stolen not just its thunder but also its trade secrets, and Keyssa wants it to pay. Literally and figuratively. According to the lawsuit, Keyssa and Essential have been in discussion for about 10 months to use Keyssa's technology to power the wireless communication between the Essential phone and the camera add-on. In November 2016, however, Essential ended negotiations and instead announced that it would go with Lattice Semiconductor's SiBEAM instead.

But while it indeed do that, Keyssa alleges that Essential still used the techniques and even testing methods that the phone maker learned from it during those 10 months. Keyssa insists that those were part of trade secrets and that the two startups signed NDAs, including one that prevents Essential from using the information in a commercial product.

Essential, for its part, simply says it has not yet been served the lawsuit and even if it did it probably wouldn't comment anyway. Andy Rubin has not been named in the suit, but, since his name has been attached to Essential already, it will most likely be dragged along as well.

SOURCE: Reuters