Android phone startup Essential is sued for allegedly stealing trade secrets

essential keyssa lawsuit news phone top half
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Essential, the Android phone startup backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, hasn’t had the success some predicted. But if delayed shipments, privacy gaffes, and disappointing sales weren’t bad enough, Essential’s latest setback threatens to do lasting damage to its smartphone business. On Tuesday, October 17, Keyssa, a wireless company backed by iPod creator and Nest founder Tony Fadell, filed a lawsuit against Essential alleging that it stole trade secrets.

The dispute stems from Essential’s work with Keyssa’s transfer technology, which copies gigabit-size using a low-frequency network. According to documents made public, Essential sought Keyssa’s technical consultation under a non-disclosure agreement, working with a team of the firm’s “top engineers and scientists” and exchanging “many thousands” of emails, technical documents, and confidential presentations.

In August, Essential told Reuters that it “considered Keyssa as a component supplier for Essential Phone and chose to proceed with a different supplier that could meet our performance specifications for the product.”

essential phone vs. galaxy s8

Essential decided to end the relationship after 10 months, assuring Keyssa that it would use a different wireless technology in the Essential Phone (it eventually sourced it from Sibeam). But Keyssa says it reneged on the confidentiality agreement, knowingly implementing antenna designs and techniques in the phone’s modular accessories pin.

It’s not Essential’s first legal dispute. In June, accessory maker Spigen, which has a trademark on the Essential name for certain battery packs, chargers, and Bluetooth headphones, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Essential, accusing it of misappropriation. It still hasn’t been resolved — Essential’s trademark application was denied twice because it sought the use “Essential” for a nonspecific range of consumer electronics products, according to Android Police.

But if Keyssa’s lawsuit is found to have merit, the impact could be far worse. The Essential Phone’s range of modular accessories, which attach to the back of the phone using a combination of magnetic pins and a 60GHz wireless USB adapter, is one of the handset’s selling points. At launch, some models were bundled with the clip-on Essential Camera, an impressive 360-degree, 12-megapixel 4K camera that Essential claims is the “world’s smallest.”

Keyssa, which earlier this year partnered with smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and Foxconn, says it is seeking damages. “Keyssa has not been compensated for Essential’s use of this guidance and know-how,” a spokesperson told Reuters. “We are pursuing this action because our attempts to resolve this matter through discussions with Essential have not been successful.”

The court proceedings in San Francisco are scheduled to begin later in 2017.

Movies & TV

Pedro Pascal officially cast as 'The Mandalorian' as Disney show fills out cast

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Mobile

Report: Samsung's upcoming foldable phone will cost a hefty $1,800

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Movies & TV

Can't get enough lightsaber action? Here's how to get your Star Wars fix online

Few of us want to deal with DVDs or Blu-ray discs anymore. Unfortunately, the Star Wars movies are few and far between when it comes to streaming. If you want to watch Star Wars online, check out our guide on where to find the films online.
Outdoors

Drink what nature provides with the best water purifiers

Looking for reliable water purification? Staying hydrated is important, especially when you are hiking or camping far from civilization. Check out our picks of the best water purifiers for your camp, backpack, or pocket.
Mobile

Black hole in the screen of Samsung's new Galaxy A8s has a camera inside

Samsung is building exciting, technologically innovative midrange phones, and the latest to be revealed is the new Samsung Galaxy A8s, which may give us an idea of what the new Samsung Galaxy S10 will look like.
Mobile

Score a Christmas deal with Speck’s half-off sale on its entire range of cases

The holidays might be nearing, but bargains don't take time off. To celebrate the last day for U.S. ground shipping, Speck will be offering a sitewide 50-percent-off deal for one day only on Monday December 17.
Mobile

Doubts emerge over when LG will reveal its folding smartphone

LG may be working on a folding smartphone, making it the latest device manufacturer to be linked to the technology, which may become one of the standout designs of the coming year.
Mobile

Walk, run, and stretch with these handy iPhone fitness apps

Working out and getting yourself in shape isn't easy, but it's easier with the right set of apps. These best iPhone fitness apps will help you to track your calories, monitor your sleep, and achieve your fitness goals.
Mobile

These parental control apps will help keep your kids' device habits in check

Looking for extra security and monitoring on mobile devices? Take a look at the best parental control apps for limiting time and keeping watch on your child's phone usage and behavior. We have the top options for Android and iOS here.
Deals

Save up to $800 with the best smartphone deals for December 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $800.
Deals

Amazon Fire Deals: Tablets, TVs, and TV controllers in stock and ready to ship

Last-minute shoppers, and anyone seeking good deals on Amazon Fire products, are in luck. There's still time to order Fire Tablets, Fire TVs, and Fire media players, Fire CVRs, and Alexa-voice-compatible Fire remotes for Christmas delivery.
Mobile

The best protective iPhone cases to defend against dirt, dings, and drops

If you’re going off-road or work outdoors, it could be a good idea to invest in a tough case. These are our picks of the best protective iPhone cases for all iterations of the iPhone, from the iPhone XS to the 7.
Mobile

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Mobile

Give Rachael Ray a run for her money with these 13 recipe apps

You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to make a killer meal, you just need an easy to follow recipe app. We’ve compiled our 13 favorite cooking apps for Android smartphones and iPhones, including countless recipes to suit any taste.