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Andy Rubin’s Essential sued over modular connector tech

The phone startup has been accused of stealing trade secrets relating to its modular connector, reports Reuters.

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Josh Miller/CNET

Andy Rubin's Essential Products has slipped right back into hot water.

Keyssa, a wireless technology company backed by iPod co-creator Tony Faddell, is suing Essential, founded by Android co-creator Rubin, in a lawsuit filed on Monday that alleges the company stole trade secrets, according to Reuters.

Keyssa alleges that Essential for 10 months considered using the company's wireless tech for its first phone, the Essential Phone, before opting to use a competitor, SiBEAM. During that 10-month period, Essential was educated by Keyssa engineers on the technology and went on to use that information despite not partnering with the Faddell-backed company, according to the lawsuit.

This information amounts to trade secrets, Keyessa said, and Essential breached a nondisclosure agreement by using it. The practical application was the Essential Phone's wireless connector, which attaches to a 360-camera accessory.

Keyssa said, "We provided extensive engineering guidance and confidential know-how to help Essential develop the wireless accessory connector used to connect the Essential Phone to accessories such as the Essential 360° Camera. Keyssa has not been compensated for Essential's use of this guidance and know-how.

"We are pursuing this action because our attempts to resolve this matter through discussions with Essential have not been successful."

Essential had trouble back in June when phone accessory maker Spigen sent the company a cease-and-desist letter over the use of the name "Essential," reported Android Police. Spigen had trademarked "Essential," but not specifically for phones.

An Essential spokesperson told CNET Friday that they believe the claims have no merit.

"Essential has created pioneering technology that is not based on any Keyssa know-how. Their claims have no merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously as we continue to deliver our first products to customers," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. 

First published Oct. 16, 2 a.m. PT.
Update, Oct. 17 at 4:34 p.m.: Adds comment from Keyssa.
Oct. 20, 3:43 p.m.: Adds comment from Essential.