New allegation: Google accused of racketeering in lawsuit claiming pattern of trade secrets theft


In an explosive new allegation, a renowned architect has accused Google of racketeering, saying in a lawsuit the company has a pattern of stealing trade secrets from people it first invites to collaborate.

Architect Eli Attia spent 50 years developing what his lawsuit calls “game-changing new technology” for building construction. Google in 2010 struck a deal to work with him on commercializing it as software, and Attia moved with his family from New York to Palo Alto to focus on the initiative, code-named “Project Genie.”

The project was undertaken in Google’s secretive “Google X” unit for experimental “moonshots.”

But then Google and its co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin “plotted to squeeze Attia out of the project” and pretended to kill it but used Attia’s technology to “surreptitiously” spin off Project Genie into a new company, according to the lawsuit.

“The real adding-insult-to-injury was Google telling him the project had been canceled and they weren’t going forward with it when in fact they were going full blast on it,” Attia’s lawyer Eric Buether said in an interview Friday.

Also named as defendants are Google X founder Sebastian Thrun and Eric “Astro” Teller, the head of Google X, who are alleged to have negotiated with Attia over his technology.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a judge in the case noted last year that the firm has argued that Attia gave Google rights to his technology “without a condition of later payment.”

Now Attia has added another allegation to the suit: the Mountain View tech giant’s actions follow a pattern that makes Google guilty of racketeering.

“It’s cheaper to steal than to develop your own technology,” Buether said. “You can take it from somebody else and you have a virtually unlimited budget to fight these things in court.”

Attia’s technology automates certain aspects of building design, to save time and money and allow architects and designers to focus on creative elements, Buether said.

This week, a judge in Santa Clara County Superior Court approved the addition of racketeering claims to the lawsuit originally filed in 2014.

Attia’s legal team uncovered six other incidents in which Google had engaged in a “substantially similar fact pattern of misappropriation of trade secrets” from other people or companies, according to a July 25 legal filing from Attia.

“Google would solicit a party to share with it highly confidential trade secrets under a non-disclosure agreement, conduct negotiations with the party, then terminate negotiations with the party professing a lack of interest in the party’s technology, followed by the unlawful use of the party’s trade secrets in its business,” Attia said in the filing.

Six lawsuits against Google, five of them resolved in the company’s favor because of procedural issues, reveal the pattern of intellectual property theft, Buether alleged. The company uses non-disclosure agreements to encourage a target to share confidential information, Buether claimed.

“The person with that NDA feels comfortable in revealing the details of the technology which is proprietary because they see a huge opportunity with a company like Google,” Buether said.

In Attia’s case, Google struck an agreement with him to use his intellectual property and patent some of it, but in spite of using it as the basis for a new firm called Flux Factory, failed to pay him as agreed, Buether claimed.

“It’s even worse than just using the proprietary information – they actually then claim ownership through patent applications,” Buether said.

Documents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, submitted to the court by a Google lawyer, show that with regard to two building-design patent applications, Attia in 2011 signed over rights to the inventions described in the applications.

Flux Factory, according to a filing by Attia, was “simply a reconstitution of Project Genie under a different name.”

Today, Flux Factory is called Flux. Headquartered in San Francisco, it sells building-design software and markets itself as “the first company launched by Google X.”

Attia’s suit seeks unspecified damages and compensation. His legal action was brought by Santa Monica software company Max Sound, which said it had made an agreement with Attia in 2014 to pursue intellectual property claims on his behalf. Max Sound’s penny stock trades over the counter and has plummeted in value to a thousandth of a cent from about 50 cents in November 2012. The firm’s reports to regulators show no revenue since 2014, and an $11.2 million loss last year.

Max Sound CEO John Blaisure welcomed the judge’s decision to allow the racketeering claims, saying in a press release that “no one should be too big and powerful to avoid the consequences of being evil.”

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NASA finds gnarly surfer waves in universe


“Surfer’s waves” are known for their iconic series of curved hills all moving in the same direction and this pattern isn’t just confined to coastal beaches. Scientists have seen this pattern all over the known universe – on a scale as small as the cellular level and as large as the galactic level.

According to two newly published studies – surfer’s waves, also called Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, can also be found in near-Earth space, a region of space that affects how solar radiation reaches our civilization.


Scientists have known that Kelvin-Helmholtz waves are caused by a fast fluid, such as wind, moving over a slower fluid, like the ocean. This pattern can also be seen in cloud formations and on the surface of the sun.

“We have known before that Kelvin-Helmholtz waves exist at the boundaries of Earth’s magnetic environment – but they were considered relatively rare and thought to only appear under specialized conditions,” study author Shiva Kavosi, a space scientist at the University of New Hampshire, said in a press release. “It turns out they can appear under any conditions and are much more prevalent than we thought. They’re present 20 percent of the time.”

Surfer waves appear in many situations

Earth is an enormous magnet, and its magnetic field stretches outward in a large bubble known as a magnetosphere. A continuous flow of particles from the sun, known as the solar wind, blows past the magnetosphere – similar to the way wind blows over the ocean. During particular situations, particles and energy from the sun can pass through the magnetosphere, and enter near-Earth space. This phenomenon causes space weather events that can affect our communications technology and power grids.

To determine the regularity of the Kelvin-Helmholtz waves around Earth, the first study began by establishing the appearance of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves in numerical simulations. Then they used the Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) Earth orbiter to discover when and where they occur. The team then linked that data with assessments of the solar wind. While previous theories indicated that the Kelvin-Helmholtz waves would only occur under very particular situations, the team discovered that the waves showed up under a wide range of conditions.

In the second paper, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, researchers found Kelvin-Helmholtz waves forming along the side of the magnetosphere’s boundary. Prior to the waves starting, researchers saw a reservoir of charged gas around Earth delivering a thin plume of plasma that traveled over 20,000 miles to make contact with the edges of the magnetosphere. This plume deposited even more atoms into the crucial sun-Earth boundary.

This second study represents the first time these plumes were correlated with Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. The researchers noted that this find helps paint a more comprehensive picture of our magnetosphere.

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