Archer Aviation is demanding US $ 1 billion in damages from Wisk Aero, according to court records on Tuesday, significantly escalating the ongoing legal battle between the two air taxi rivals.
Wisk “carried out a knowingly bogus out-of-court smear campaign that projected independent defamatory statements about Archer into the world,” the file said. On this basis, Archer claims that this “smear campaign” negatively affected his ability to access capital and impaired business relationships, resulting in “probably over $ 1 billion in damage”.
The two companies have been in a heated legal battle for this year. The dispute began in April when Wisk filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that Archer had misused its trade secrets in connection with Wisk’s first eVTOL aircraft, the Cora. Wisk went on to claim that a former employee, Jing Xue, downloaded thousands of proprietary files from his work computer before joining Archer.
This isn’t the first time Archer has hit back against the allegations in court. It first filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in early June and later that month claimed in a separate court document that Archer’s design was well established before Wisk filed any patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Archer unveiled a prototype of its Maker aircraft in February, the same month it announced (too much buzz) that it would be merging with blank check firm Atlas Crest Investment Corp. would go public for a pro forma enterprise value of $ 2.7 billion. Late last month, Archer cut its valuation $ 1 billion as part of a “strategic rewrite” of the terms of the deal with the SPAC. While this is the same amount Archer is asking for damages, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch that it was just coincidental.
In addition, the spokesman added that the proposed merger remains on track. Speaking to the lawsuit, they said, “We have no intention of dropping our counterclaim, regardless of what steps Wisk might take.”
A Wisk spokesman said, “Archer’s counterclaim is ridiculous and its problems are purely self-inflicted”, characterizing the filing as “full of biases and distractions from the grave claims of misappropriation of patents and trade secrets”. The spokesman added that Wisk intends to continue its trial against Archer.