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IPFS News Link • Transportation

Lawsuits fly as Wisk accuses Archer of stealing eVTOL designs

•, By Loz Blain

When Palo Alto startup Archer exploded onto the eVTOL scene in June 2020, it did so in a remarkably aggressive fashion. Where most companies in this space spend years working in small teams on aircraft designs and scale models before making a public debut, Archer hit the ground sprinting, poaching top-level talent from Joby and Wisk, and picking up a bunch of other experienced employees from Airbus's defunct Vahana program.

It quickly signed an exploratory deal with Fiat Chrysler Automotive (now Stellantis) in a design, engineering, supply chain and composite materials partnership, and by February it had produced spectacular renders of a 12-rotor transitioning eVTOL called the Maker, and announced a billion-dollar provisional order from United Airlines, with piloted commercial flights expected to begin in 2024.

This flurry of activity was in support of a push to list on the New York Stock Exchange and raise capital through a SPAC merger with the Atlas Crest Investment Corp. SPAC listings, as we've pointed out before, are a very popular way to get your company listed without all the scrutiny and due diligence required for an IPO, and they tend to be a much worse deal for investors.

Now, Archer appears to be embroiled in the first high-profile legal showdown of the eVTOL world, as Wisk Aero has launched a lawsuit accusing Archer of misappropriating trade secrets and violating trade secrets – and it appears a criminal investigation is now also underway.