Karma sues DeLorean, alleges intellectual property theft

DeLorean’s much-hyped revival is facing legal challenges. Karma Automotive, the Chinese-owned firm that purchased some of Fisker Automotive’s assets in a bankruptcy auction, sued the new iteration of DeLorean in a Houston court over claims of intellectual property theft.

Karma explained in court documents that it had previously worked “on a potential joint venture” to electrify the original DMC-12, according to the San Antonio Express-News. It added that four of the employees it assigned to the project created the rebooted DeLorean brand, which is legally called “DeLorean Motors Reimagined,” while they were still working on the joint venture. They later left Karma and allegedly took key design and engineering information with them. The employees in question are DeLorean CEO Joost de Vries, chief operating officer Alan Yuan, chief marketing officer Troy Beetz, and vice president of brand and creative Neilo Harris. They’re named as defendants in the lawsuit.

There’s no word on precisely what Karma claims its former employees stole. However, court documents explain the disagreements began when the joint venture (which was formed with the DeLorean Motor Company) got sidetracked. Karma accuses the four defendants of not being able to make the project detailed and viable, of leveraging its intellectual property to lure potential investors to DeLorean Motors Reimagined, and of sending proprietary information (like battery- and charging-related data) to their personal email addresses.

DeLorean and its executives have denied the accusations. DeLorean showed renderings of its planned first car, a four-seater EV will gullwing doors (pictured), in May 2022.

“This car has a very specific, unique DeLorean lineage that has no relation to Karma Automotive from a design, engineering, supply chain, or manufacturing perspective. We remain committed to the future of our company,” de Vries told the San Antonio Express-News.

He added that “the potential Karma/DMC project died due to Karma’s inability to fund or produce deliverables necessary to even move forward talks with DMC.” 

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