Air-taxi manufacturer Archer Aviation is seeking US$1 billion in damages against its Californian rival Wisk Aero following an ongoing legal dispute between the companies since April this year.
The latest update comes after Wisk accused Archer of stealing trade secrets about electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which caused “substantial damages” to Archer’s business.
In a filing to the California district court on 10 August, Archer said Wisk claimed “knowingly false” information about its rival, which “have the plain purpose of impeding Archer’s business”.
Archer countersued the original lawsuit to hold Wisk “accountable”, by seeking damages that will likely exceed the proposed US$1 billion.
Archer’s four-passenger electric aircraft ‘Maker’ was revealed last year, and is set to officially enter service by 2024.
It boasts a 95-kilometre range through battery technology, reducing carbon emissions by 100 per cent.
Wisk developed a 12-propeller, two-passenger rival aircraft named ‘Cora’ with a 22 nautical mile range, and intends on trialling it this year in New Zealand.
Wisk is backed by industry giants such as Boeing and Google co-founder Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk Corp.
Both companies have launched flying taxis at a time when the market is highly competitive, matching the increase of sustainable-focused consumers in the recovery from the pandemic.
“Archer’s counterclaim is ludicrous and its troubles are purely self-inflicted,” said a Wisk spokesperson in response to the court filing.
On 11 August, Archer said, “If Wisk persists in going to trial, we will defeat them in court and immediately sue them for malicious prosecution.”
The Palo-Alto based company added that if Wisk dropped the claims, Archer would still seek damages for its “illegal and baseless” campaign that has impacted its business relationships and access to capital.
According to a spokesperson, Wisk intends to take the case further.
When the dispute began in April, Wisk claimed Archer Aviation was “gaining a foothold in the industry without respecting rules of fair competition”.
The company said it had discovered evidence indicating Archer had been obtaining Wisk’s proprietary intellectual property without permission.
In July, Wisk asked the court in San Francisco for an injunction to prevent Archer from continuing the development of its air taxi, but it was denied.
The court determined Wisk failed to make a case and had “not shown a likelihood of success on the merits that defendant Archer Aviation Inc. has misappropriated its particular asserted trade secrets.”
Archer’s deputy general counsel, Eric Lentell said after the dismissal that the chargers were a “massive theft”, of the company’s success.
“The record makes it clear that Wisk has provided no evidence — not a single document, not a single witness — that Archer ever received or used any Wisk trade secret.”