Arbitrator Clears Electric Carmaker in Trade Secrets Case


In a previous post, I wrote about a trade secrets case between two rival electric car startups, Tesla Motors (Tesla) and Fisker Automotive (Fisker). 

In the lawsuit, filed in April, Tesla accused Fisker along with its CEO, Henrik Fisker, its COO, Bernhard Koehler, and Mssrs. Fisker and Koehler’s design company, Fisker Coachbuild, of stealing Tesla’s confidential design ideas for a hybrid electric sedan.

Tesla had alleged that Fisker Coachbuild, which Tesla hired to help design a high performance electric-hybrid sports sedan, used confidential information acquired during the engagement to secretly design its own directly competing sedan, the Karma. 

Last month Fisker announced that an arbitrator issued an interim award decision absolving the carmaker and the design company of any wrongdoing.  The arbitrator’s decision is not public so our only source for the details of the decision is Fisker’s PR department, which didn’t release the grounds for the decision.

According to Fisker’s press release, the arbitrator found Tesla’s trade secrets claim “baseless” and “neither brought nor pursued in good faith.” 

The good news for Fisker didn’t end there: the electric carmaker also announced last month that it would open an engineering and development facility in Pontiac, Michigan and that it signed an assembly contract with Valment Automotive to manufacture the Karma in Finland.

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Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.