The DeLorean reboot based on stolen IP

Months after city and county officials lavished the restarted DeLorean Motor Co. more than $1 million in freebies in exchange for moving its headquarters to San Antonio, a lawsuit filed this week alleges that DeLorean’s founders grew the company using intellectual property they stole from their former employer.

In the lawsuit in federal court in Houston, California-based electric carmaker Karma Automotive said it was working “on a potential joint venture” to electrify older-model DeLorean DMC-12s, the car made popular in the “Back to the future”. .

But four of the top employees he assigned to the project secretly formed their own companies while still employed at Karma, passing design and engineering information for an electric vehicle to the new entity they took on. called “Reimagined,” according to the lawsuit. The DeLorean entity operating in San Antonio is incorporated in Texas as “DeLorean Motors Reimagined”.

The lawsuit names DeLorean CEO Joost de Vries, chief operating officer Alan Yuan, chief marketing officer Troy Beetz and Neilo Harris, vice president of brand and creative for DeLorean, as defendants. It also lists two companies, DeLorean Motors Reimagined and Reimagined Automotive, as defendants.

In a statement, de Vries called Karma’s accusations “baseless” and said the car the San Antonio company is set to unveil this month was designed entirely outside of Karma.

“This car has a very specific and unique DeLorean lineage that has no connection to Karma Automotive from a design, engineering, supply chain or manufacturing perspective,” De Vries said. “We remain committed to the future of our business.”

The emergence of the company

The new version of DeLorean apparently appeared out of the blue on Super Bowl Sunday in February, when a TV ad mysteriously teased a new gull-winged DeLorean electric sports car.

A few days later, the company announced that it was moving its headquarters to San Antonio and that it would hire 450 workers within a few years. In return, the city awarded DeLorean more than $500,000 tied to hiring goals. Bexar County gave DeLorean an additional $500,000 in tax relief over 10 years.

County officials declined to comment on the lawsuit. The city of San Antonio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

DeLorean has announced plans to begin producing a small number of its high-priced electric coupes, likely in 2024, at a manufacturing facility in Ontario, Canada. After that, de Vries said DeLorean would consider producing an SUV, possibly in South Carolina. And de Vries has been firm that DeLorean will eventually go public and trade on the stock exchange, despite the fact that it has yet to sell a single vehicle.

Economic development organization Greater:SATX helped recruit DeLorean to San Antonio. He said incentives are only given to the company if it hires enough employees and declined to comment on the dispute.

“Whenever incentives are considered to support a relocation or business expansion project, our public sector partners perform a high level of due diligence to ensure proper stewardship of taxpayers’ money,” SATX said in a statement. communicated. “With a new business, like DeLorean Motors Reimagined, negotiated incentive packages are structured as pay-for-performance.”

It’s unclear what level of due diligence city and county officials conducted on the new DeLorean entity, which incorporated in Texas in late November last year, just months before DeLorean negotiated with the cities. to establish a registered office.

In response to a request for information from the Express-News, the city and DeLorean appealed to the Texas Attorney General to block publication of the communications and information about how the inducements were negotiated.

It’s a whole new story. Check back for updates.

About Frances R. Smith

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