Illumina filed a lawsuit against Guardant Health, accusing its co-founders, Helmy Eltoukhy and AmirAli Talasaz of stealing confidential trade secrets while both working at Illumina to launch their company and secure cancer screening patents. The lawsuit also claims that the patents were filed while Eltoukhy was still employed at Illumina and used secrets to obtain at least 35 patents, according to Reuters.
Eltoukhy joined Illumina back in 2008 while Talasaz joined the following year. When they were hired, they signed contracts regarding not compete with Illumina, to protect Illumina’s confidential and proprietary information, and return Illumina materials to the company upon termination of their employment.
In 2011, Elouskhy and Talasaz founded Guardant Health while both were still employed at Illumina. Talasaz left Illumina in 2012 and joined Guardant. According to the lawsuit, two days after Talasaz’s final day at Illumina, Eltoukhy asked a coworker for information to a project he never worked on but that included Illumina’s confidential intellectual property.
Additionally, when Eltouskhy left Illumina in 2013, he took 51,000 emails to which 1,400 of them were labeled as confidential and for internal us only, according to the lawsuit. A federal court in the Foundation Medicine case determined that Eltoukhy deleted emails in 2019 just days after being asked questions about them in a deposition, which violated the court’s discovery order to preserve documents.
Despite the lawsuit, Guardant and Illumina continue to do business together. They have a long-term supply agreement under which Illumina provides gene sequencing equipment and consumables to Guardant. Both companies said there are no plans to change the business relationship due to the legal action.
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