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CesiumAstro claims former exec spilled trade secrets to upstart competitor AnySignal | TechCrunch

CesiumAstro claims former exec spilled trade secrets to upstart competitor AnySignal | TechCrunch

Cesium Astro A newly filed lawsuit alleges that a former executive disclosed trade secrets and confidential information about sensitive technology, investors and customers to a competing startup.

Austin-based Cesium develops active phased array and software-defined radio systems for spacecraft, missiles and drones. While phased array antenna systems have been used on satellites for decades, Cesium has significantly advanced and produced the technology during its seven years. The startup has received over $100 million in investment and government funding, which it has used to develop a suite of products for commercial and defense customers.

The technology is special: only a handful of companies work on the cutting edge of space-based radio technology, and Cesium is sure to pay close attention to any new entrants into the field. AnySignal, a startup that came out of stealth last October but officially incorporated in 2022, certainly caught the company's eye, not least because it reportedly landed a big customer. In a bid to sell, Cesium was thrown out and tried to gain the interest of one of them. Cesium's early investors — both examples described in the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit filed March 25, these instances directly relate to former VP of Product Eric Luther's misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information about investors and customers, which Cesium alleges he did. Later revealed to AnySignal. Notably, Luther did not leave Cesium to work for AnySignal, instead taking a role as head of marketing at a company that operates in an entirely different field. But Luther maintained a “personal connection” with the AnySignal co-founder, having previously worked with AnySignal CEO John Malsbury at a different company, the lawsuit says.

As a result, AnySignal “recruited and induced Luther” to improperly disclose confidential and trade secret information, the suit says. AnySignal's CEO and CesiumAstro did not respond to TechCrunch's request for comment. An attorney representing Luther referred TechCrunch to the March 29 legal filing below.

Cesium is clear on his position in the lawsuit: He does not believe that AnySignal could have developed its complex radio technology on its timeline and with its existing resources — “absent CesiumAstro's technical diagrams and specifications (to which Luther had access); ).”

“With just a handful of employees and $5 million in investor funding, (AnySignal) wouldn't even be in the orbit of CesiumAstro, which spent tens of millions of dollars working with (now) 170 employees to develop its technologies. are,” the suit says. “But with Luther's help, AnySignal is poised to compete directly with CesiumAstro in the software-defined radios space.”

Luther vehemently denied all the allegations in two separate documents filed in court on March 29. As for the claim that he acted in concert with AnySignal, he says the allegation is “not only false… but invented out of whole cloth.” (The answer also refutes Cesium's claim that it is an “industry leader.”)

Luther's attorney claimed in the filing that Cesium “does not cite any facts or evidence linking Luther and AnySignal to any business endeavors and that the alleged evidence (Cesium) presents does not support (its) contentions.” doesn't”. He goes on to say that Cesium took “a leap the size of the Grand Canyon, easily explainable evidence that cites the remarkable allegation that Luther was secretly helping AnySignal and divulging (Cesium's) trade secrets to them.” has been without any evidence.”

El Segundo-based AnySignal was founded in May 2022 by Malsbury and COO Jeffrey Osborne, and emerged from a stealth $5 million in seed funding last year. The company is developing a software-defined radio platform. Cesium's lawsuit names it a “direct competitor.” In February, a month before the lawsuit was filed, AnySignal announced that it had partnered with private space station developer Vast for an advanced communications system for Vast's flagship station, Haven-1.

The case was filed in the Western District of Texas under case no. 1:24-cv-314.

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