Seattle-area battery materials company Group14 Technologies has been embroiled in a lawsuit alleging that the UK-based company stole “important trade secrets” for manufacturing high-performance batteries. Group14 is requesting a jury trial, seeking a stay of the theft charges and damages from the defendant, her company, Nexeon.
Last week, Nexeon filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in federal district court in Seattle, calling it “innocence.” Legal documents describe Group14’s lawsuit as “an attempt to defame his Nexeon in the marketplace.”
In its first court filings in September, Group14 found that fellow battery materials maker Nexeon had violated a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), used confidential proprietary information in its patent applications, and raised hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. claimed to have supported
“It was a big decision for us to file a lawsuit. It was our last resort,” Group14 CEO Rick Luebbe said in an email. “If we file a lawsuit, we have to believe that the conduct turned out to be particularly egregious, and we are confident in the outcome. The allegations in the complaint speak for themselves.”
Here’s how the situation unfolded:
- In 2015, Group14 spun out of EnerG2, an energy storage materials company founded in 2003 and a spin-off of the University of Washington. Nexeon was founded in 2006 by him.
- Group14 and Nexeon began discussing a possible partnership in 2016, with the two companies signing a mutual NDA.
- Group14 shared information about its technology, and Nexeon made an offer to acquire the company in late 2017. According to court documents, Group14 turned down the offer, believing it to be “far short” of the startup’s “long-term value.”
- Nexeon tried to license Group14’s technology in 2018, but Group14 also rejected the offer.
- In September 2019, Group14 said it learned that Nexeon had applied for multiple patents. Group14 claims that technology is included.
- On September 23, 2022, Group14 filed a lawsuit in the District Court. On December 28, Nexeon filed a motion for termination.
Group14 is based in Woodinville, Washington, where it built its first manufacturing facility. We are expanding our production capacity in Lake Moses in eastern Washington and in South Korea. The company raised his $614 million in Series C funding last year. His valuation is over $3 billion and he has over 100 employees.
Group14 has developed a silicon carbon scaffold to replace graphite anodes in lithium batteries that can power everything from home appliances to electric vehicles. The innovation creates a more efficient and fast-charging lithium-silicon battery that, according to the company, improves battery performance by 50%.
The company’s investors include Porsche AG, which plans to use silicon-carbon technology in some of its electric vehicles, and Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.
Nexeon has offices in Oxfordshire, UK and Yokohama, Japan. To date, he has raised nearly $262 million and has a valuation of him at $352 million, according to PitchBook. The company’s website describes it as “a world leader in engineered silicon materials for battery applications.”
In its court filings, Nexeon claims that when it met with Group14, the other’s technology was “in its infancy and faced a long and uncertain commercial future.” Nexeon claims that not all of Group14’s technology was secret, but was disclosed in patent applications and US Department of Energy grant applications.
Group14 claims that the key information is not publicly available and is “the product of years of covert research and development,” according to legal documents. Permitting Nexeon to act “rewards theft and discourages companies from seeking potentially fruitful cooperation,” the lawsuit states.
The UK firm suggests in filings that if it had stolen trade secrets, Group14 would have acted immediately and would not have waited three years to take legal action. Nexeon indicated that Group14 did not contact the company after learning of the patent.
“Failing to match Nexeon’s commercial progress (as evidenced by the increasing adoption of Nexeon materials by major cell manufacturers), Group14 has attempted to put spokes in Nexeon’s wheels through litigation. ,” Nexeon claimed in the allegation.
GeekWire has reached out to a Seattle-based attorney for Nexeon, but the company has not yet provided additional comment.
District Court Judge Thomas Giry is scheduled to consider the motion to dismiss on Jan. 27.
The first lawsuit filed by Group14 in September 2022 is:
A motion to dismiss filed by Nexeon in December 2022 reads: