WPP Affiliate Shop Sued For Stealing Trade Secrets

Los Angeles-based interactive agency and mobile product firm Mach18 Design has sued WPP affiliated mobile shop iconmobile for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets and “interference with prospective economic advantage.”

WPP acquired a 40% stake in iconmobile several years back and calls the shop a “digital partner company.” WPP itself was not named in the complaint. The only company named in the suit is iconmobile -- as well as possibly up to 10 unidentified “Does” that could be named at a later date.

Mach18 has been at work developing a futuristic communications system for driverless cars that it calls Arive, and the company asserts that it had discussions with iconmobile about developing a prototype for the system.

The suit, filed last month in the Los Angeles District of California Superior Court, asserts that iconmobile took the idea and ran with it after signing a nondisclosure agreement. According to Mach18, the NDA broadly prohibits iconmobile from “using or disclosing the concepts, strategies or relationships disclosed by Mach18,” or from “developing any product similar to ARIVE without including Mach18.”

Yet that is essentially what iconmobile proceeded to do, according to the complaint, which can be seen in its entirety here.

After presenting its ideas to iconmobile, the firm initially “expressed excitement about the possibility of forming a long-term strategic partnership with Mach18,” the latter firm said in its complaint. Icon even provided a preliminary quote of $350,000 to develop and produce an initial prototype.

Subsequently, however, no proposal for the prototype was presented to Mach18, which said it “soon found its calls going unanswered,” with “nothing but excuses, evasion and delay” from iconmobile.

In the summer of 2013, Mach18 learned from third parties that iconmobile was in the marketplace soliciting designers “on a project that sounded nearly identical to Mach18’s project.” Later, Mach18 asserts that it discovered that its potential partner-turned-rival was “working on a copycat pitch to several of Mach18’s actual and potential business partners.”

In addition to barring iconmobile from continuing with the ARIVE-like product, Mach18 said it wants punitive and exemplary damages in an amount to be proven at trial.

Iconmobile did not respond to a call seeking comment on the suit. 

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