One of the world’s most renowned architects is suing technology giant Google over allegations the latter stole trade secrets in respect of the development of software which allows users to design buildings in an environmentally friendly manger.
In a strongly worded lawsuit lodged before the Superior Court for the State of California, Israeli-born Eli Attia claims that Google stole his trade secrets, proprietary information and know-how with regard to its Flux architectural software, which he says contains features of his ‘engineered architecture‘ technology that assisted with the design of environmentally friendly buildings.
In his suit, Attia says Google engaged him over a period of several months during which he worked with the company’s software engineers to prove the viability of his technology.
But he says Google later reneged on a promise to either drop the project or develop it with his approval at the conclusion of the proof of concept period, and instead squeezed him out of the project and developed the technology on its own using secrets and know-how which he contributed without providing him with any form of licensing fee or other compensation.
“Despite its own motto of ‘don’t be evil’, the Defendants remorselessly discarded Mr Attia, misappropriated his proprietary information and know-how, and proceeded to develop and exploit Mr Attia’s ideas and know-how for their own benefit, picking for themselves the fruit of Mr. Attia’s life work at his expense,” the suit alleged, adding that “at some point known to Defendants but not to Mr. Attia, Defendants decided that stealing Mr. Attia’s ideas would not violate their own ‘Don’t be evil’ concept”.
Born in Israel, Attia moved to Chicago in 1968, and was the architect behind the HSBC World Tower, the Millennium Hilton Hotel and 101 Park Avenue buildings in New York as well as Houston’s Pennzolil Place – which in the 1970s was named the ‘building of the decade’ by the New York Times.
His previous endeavours to initiate action against others over alleged theft of his work, however, have not been overly successful – a suit he launched over alleged copying of his drawings for a competition regarding a hospital renovation design in the 1990s, for example, was dismissed. So too was an appeal.
Atttia is seeking damages including all revenues, earnings and profits earned by Google and others as a result of their alleged use of his technology.
Comment from Google is being sought.