Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The iRobot Trade Secrets Trial

This is interesting: The November 3 edition of the Boston Globe, page D3, has an article about a trade secrets case involving iRobot: In August, iRobot sued Robotic FX, a company founded by former iRobot engineer Jameel Ahed. iRobot claimed that Ahed had used iRobot trade secrets in the building of a robot called the Negotiator, which beat out iRobot's PackBot for a $280 million military contract. After the suit was filed, detectives hired by iRobot witnessed Ahed trying to discard iRobot-related materials. Ahed also acknowledged shredding data CDs and erasing hard drives. Ahed said he was not destroying evidence, but US District Judge Nancy Gertner said his behavior "gives rise to a strong inference of consciousness of guilt" and "profoundly undermines Ahed's credibility as a witness". She granted an injunction, saying Ahed got some of his information from iRobot's trade secrets, but didn't grant a second injunction because she said Ahed got some of his information from iRobot's patent application. The key technology was fairly low-tech - the rubber tracks used to propel the robot.