Architect Sues Google For Alleged Racketeering And Long History Of Trade Secret Theft

Google's legal troubles with a former collaborator and renowned architect who worked on a project under the company's secretive Google X division are not going away. If fact, they are intensifying. In addition to accusing the company of stealing a technology he allegedly came up with, Eli Attia has added racketeering to his lawsuit, claiming Google has a pattern of bad behavior that makes it guilty of such a charge.

Racketeering is a serious crime that is often associated with organized criminals. It entails the act of dishonest service, known as the racket, to solve a problem that otherwise would not exist without said service. In this instance, the allegation seems to be a clever legal maneuver after a longstanding lawsuit against Google ran into a roadblock, but that does not mean it is not valid. Furthermore, a judge in Santa Clara Counter Superior Court has approved the addition of the racketeering claim.

Image Source: Flickr (F Delventhal)

Attia and his lawyer Eric Buether filed the suit against Google back in 2014. According to the lawsuit, Attia spent 50 years developing "game changing new technology" related to building construction. In 2010, Google convinced Attia to come on board and commercialize his technology as software, so he moved with his family from New York to Palo Alto and began work on Project Genie, the name given to the initiative.

The lawsuit alleges that Google and its co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin "plotted to squeeze Attia out of the project" by pretending to kill it, but continuing to use his technology to "surreptitiously" spin-off Project Genie into a new company.

"The real adding-insult-to-injury was Google telling him the project had been canceled and they weren’t going forward with it when in fact they were going full blast on it," Buether said.

What Attia developed is a technology that automates certain parts of building design, which saves both time and money os that architects and designers can focus on other creative elements. However, a judge last year found that Attia gave Google rights to his technology "without a condition of later payment."

Attia's legal team claims it found half a dozen other incidents in which Google acted in a "substantially similar fact pattern of misappropriation of trade secrets" from other people or companies.

"Google would solicit a party to share with it highly confidential trade secrets under a non-disclosure agreement, conduct negotiations with the party, then terminate negotiations with the party professing a lack of interest in the party’s technology, followed by the unlawful use of the party’s trade secrets in its business," the lawsuit states.

All but one of those lawsuits were ruled in Google's favor due to procedural issues, but reveal a pattern of intellectual property theft, Buether alleges

Attia is seeking unspecified damages and compensation..

Thumbnail Image Source: Flickr (Shawn Collins)