Palantir Technologies, the Peter Thiel-founded company known for its air of mystery and beer pong-friendly culture, has filed a lawsuit against early investor Marc Abramowitz, claiming he stole company secrets for his own gain and deceived company executives.
Alex Karp, Palantir’s CEO. (Image: Getty)
The lawsuit, filed on September 1, was originally identified by Law.com and brought to our attention by Fortune. It’s full of strongly worded accusations against Abramowitz, whom it calls a one-time “respected confidant and advisor to Palantir”.
“As part of a brazen scheme to claim Palantir’s own highly confidential information and trade secrets as his own, Abramowitz stole those secrets, engaged in methodical deception of Palantir’s senior executives, and made false claims to the United States Patent and Trademark Office,” read the lawsuit.
Specifically, the lawsuit claims Abramowitz — who, like Palantir, appears to be shrouded in mystery and doesn’t have much of an online presence — filed three patents based on the information he “stole” from Palantir, which the lawsuit decries as “plainly illegal and highly unethical conduct”.
Abramowitz does indeed have several patents in which he’s identified as the inventor. They cover areas like cyber security, cyber insurance and health and medical data. According to the lawsuit, Abramowitz used information he obtained from Palantir “in confidence” to file several of the applications. The company argues that Abramowitz’s prior lack of experience as an inventor precludes the possibility that he filed the applications without help. More amusingly, Palantir’s lawyers are also accusing Abramowitz of trying to trademark the term “Shire”, which they say is yet another attempt to encroach on the company’s territory. (Palantir’s name is apparently a reference to The Lord of the Rings.)
Aside from the patent catfights, Palantir also says it was forced to amend its investor agreement after lawyers for Abramowitz recently contacted the company demanding information. According to the suit, Abramowitz had access to all of this information because he had a “trusted relationship” with the company. The early investor was apparently at Palantir’s headquarters so much that he requested office space in 2014. Through another company, KT4 — which is also named as a co-defendant — Abramowitz initially invested in Palantir in 2005, which gave him access to confidential company information.
This isn’t Palantir’s first visit to the legal rodeo. In 2011, it settled a lawsuit in which a competitor, i2, accused the company of unfairly obtaining software in order to create its own version. Palantir is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with the US Army “over the way the Army solicits bids for its data intelligence technology used on battlefields worldwide”, according to Bloomberg.
We reached out to Palantir, its lawyers and Abramowitz, but had not heard back at time of writing.