GE Lawsuit Claims Uptake Poached Executives

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 20, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

General Electric is suing Uptake Technologies, alleging the up-and-coming tech company is trying to steal its trade secrets.

Uptake has lured away top talent from the industrial giant, GE claims, in a "ruthless scheme" to poach its executives. GE wants a judge to restrain the former employees from disclosing proprietary information.

Courts will award damages when defendants take trade secrets. In this case, however, the plaintiff wants to stop it before it happens.

Before It Happens

According to the complaint, the scheme started about a year ago. That's when Uptake lost investors and the company laid off about 50 workers.

In July 2017, Uptake approached GE about doing business together. The lawsuit says GE refused, but in the meantime Uptake hired away key employees.

Uptake hired at least 13 GE people, including senior level executives. GE alleges those employees "will inevitably disclose GE's trade secret information" -- if it hasn't happened already.

In the meantime, Uptake is rebounding from a downturn in growth. According to reports, it went from 850 employees to 550 in the past year.

"Hardly a Surprise"

Writing for Crain's Chicago Business, John Pletz says it is "hardly a surprise" that Uptake is being sued.

"During an astonishing run-up in which it grew by the hundreds, Uptake attracted attention for aggressively sucking up the talent from companies all over town," he wrote.

In other words, it's been business as usual. Pletz says the lawsuit provides "a glimpse at the sometimes bare-knuckle tactics used in the high-stakes world of enterprise software."

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