New Evidence Confirms Massive Theft and Archer’s Use of Wisk Trade Secrets, as Archer Engineer Pleads the Fifth

July 15, 2021

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Wisk Aero LLC (“Wisk”), the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) company behind the first all-electric, self-flying air taxi in the U.S., has submitted a brief in support of its preliminary injunction motion to the San Francisco federal court [FOUND HERE]. The filing details newly-obtained documents and testimony from Archer demonstrating misappropriation of Wisk’s trade secrets “on a massive scale,” and that an Archer engineer pleaded the Fifth Amendment. The brief states: 

  • “The Archer engineering documentation is stunning in its reliance on Wisk’s trade secrets.” 
  • “Archer concluded in 2019 that its efforts to date were not viable and that it would have to ‘start over.’ So in December 2019 and January 2020, Archer recruited close to a dozen Wisk employees … in just seven weeks Archer … not only settled on a final aircraft configuration but also laid out full conceptual designs of all supporting systems. … The design was called ‘cora + tilt’ – ‘Cora’ being a reference to Wisk’s well publicized, fifth-generation aircraft.”  
  • “Archer argues that its selection of aircraft configurations is supported by ‘extensive design and analysis work’ by Flighthouse,” an aircraft design consulting firm run by two ex-Wisk employees. “That is not true. Archer’s Chief Engineer, Geoff Bower (another former Wisk engineer) . . . select[ed] the aircraft design . . . without access to any of FlightHouse’s underlying technical analyses.”
  • “The poster child for the covert theft of Wisk’s trade secrets is former Wisk engineer Jing Xue, whose Christmas Day download of thousands of Wisk confidential files from an outside IP address occurred one week after Archer contacted him. Archer made Xue’s written denials under oath the centerpiece of its defense. But when Wisk sought to depose Xue about these improbable assertions, contradicted by Archer’s documents, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right because of a pending federal criminal investigation.”
  • “Archer also spoke to three other Wisk engineers weeks before their departure, and all three improperly retained confidential Wisk documents. In fact, one took a document expressly cited in Wisk’s trade secret disclosure. All three have since been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.” 
  • “Archer certainly knew, or had to know, that the former Wisk employees were using Wisk trade secrets in executing on the “cora + tilt” design.”
  • “Archer’s most outlandish fabrication is also the most damning. Having been caught red-handed, Archer falsely claims that Wisk copied Archer’s aircraft design after Archer ‘disclosed’ it on December 9 to a Wisk engineer it was seeking to recruit. … Archer omits that the engineer’s contemporaneous notes of that conversation (the only in existence) make clear that he instantly recognized the design Archer was describing as one that Wisk had secretly worked on years earlier.” 
  • “Wisk’s uncontested expert testimony proves Wisk’s trade secrets pervade Archer’s aircraft development.” 

Archer’s SPAC sponsor, Atlas Crest Investment Corp., disclosed in its July 1 amended S-4 that Archer and three of its employees received grand jury subpoenas from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. According to the S-4, the “grand jury subpoenas seek documents and information about Archer’s business, including its hiring practices and intellectual property, as well as documents and information relating to the employment of such employees at Wisk, including Wisk’s intellectual property, business plans, and information relating to Wisk’s aircraft design.” 

Additional context for Wisk’s legal action and latest filing can be found on our blog

ABOUT WISK

Wisk is an urban air mobility company dedicated to delivering safe, everyday flight for everyone. Wisk’s self-flying, eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) air taxi, will make it possible for passengers to skip the traffic and get to their destination faster. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and New Zealand, Wisk is an independent company backed by The Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk Corporation. With over a decade of experience and over 1500 test flights, Wisk is shaping the future of daily commutes and urban travel, safely and sustainably.