Insider Leak: Former CesiumAstro Executive Reveals Trade Secrets to Up-and-Coming Rival AnySignal

CesiumAstro alleges in a newly filed lawsuit that a former executive disclosed trade secrets and confidential information about sensitive tech, investors, and customers to a competing startup. Austin-based Cesium develops active phased array and software-defined radio systems for spacecraft, missiles, and drones. But the suit says that Luther maintained “personal connections” with AnySignal’s cofounders, having worked with AnySignal CEO John Malsbury previously at a different company. This resulted in AnySignal “recruiting and inducing Luther … to improperly disclose” the confidential and trade secret information, the suit says. The suit was filed in Western District of Texas under no.

CesiumAstro, a company based in Austin, has recently taken legal action, claiming that a former executive has leaked confidential information and trade secrets to a rival startup. The lawsuit, filed on March 25, alleges that the former Vice President of Product, Erik Luther, disclosed sensitive information about Cesium’s technology, investors, and customers to AnySignal, a competitor in the space-based radio industry.

CesiumAstro specializes in developing active phased array and software-defined radio systems for spacecraft, missiles, and drones. In their seven years of operation, they have made significant progress in advancing and productizing this technology. With over $100 million in funding from both investors and the government, Cesium has been able to develop a range of products for both commercial and defense clients.

The technology CesiumAstro works with is highly specialized, making it a niche market with only a handful of companies at the forefront. Therefore, it is not surprising that Cesium paid close attention when AnySignal emerged from stealth and incorporated in 2022, despite being in operation since October of last year. The lawsuit mentions that AnySignal had won a major contract over Cesium and approached one of its early investors, catching the attention of the company.

According to the suit, these events are directly linked to Luther’s misconduct of disclosing Cesium’s confidential and trade secret information to AnySignal. Although Luther did not leave Cesium to work for AnySignal, he maintained personal connections with the company’s co-founders, particularly CEO John Malsbury, with whom he had previously worked at another company.

“Recruiting and inducing Luther… to improperly disclose” sensitive information, the lawsuit states. However, representatives from both AnySignal and CesiumAstro did not respond to requests for comment from TechCrunch, and Luther’s attorney referred to legal filings from March 29 for further details.

Cesium is firm in its belief that AnySignal could not have made significant strides in its complex radio technology without “CesiumAstro’s technical diagrams and specifications, which Luther had access to.” The lawsuit states that AnySignal was able to enter the market and compete directly with CesiumAstro due to Luther’s assistance.

“With only a few employees and $5 million dollars in investor funding, [AnySignal] would not even be in the same orbit as CesiumAstro,” the suit states, emphasizing the vast difference in resources and manpower between the two companies.

In his response to the allegations on March 29, Luther vehemently denies all of Cesium’s claims. Specifically, he refuted the accusation that he was working in collaboration with AnySignal, stating that the allegation was “not only false… but invented out of whole cloth.” His response also disputed Cesium’s claim of being an “industry leader.”

In addition to Luther’s denial of any involvement with AnySignal, his lawyer states in the legal filings that Cesium has provided no evidence to support their allegations. He goes on to say that the evidence cited by Cesium is flimsy and does not link Luther to AnySignal’s activities in any way. He believes that Cesium has made an unfounded claim without any proof.

AnySignal was founded in May 2022 by Malsbury and COO Jeffrey Osborne, and emerged from stealth with a $5 million seed funding. The company is also working on a software-defined radio platform and has been named as a direct competitor in the lawsuit. In February of this year, AnySignal announced a partnership with private space station developer Vast for an advanced communication system for Vast’s flagship station, Haven-1.

The lawsuit, filed in the Western District of Texas under no. 1:24-cv-314, highlights the fierce competition in the space-based radio industry and the importance of protecting trade secrets and confidential information. With this legal action, CesiumAstro is asserting its position as a leader in the field and defending its hard work and proprietary technology.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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