NORFOLK, Va. (CN) – Two tech companies say employees swiped their technology to make copycat versions of room-sterilizers, including a “room fogger” that can “combat infection and neutralize bio-chemical threats.” L-3 Services, of Reston, Va., and Binary Ionization, of San Diego, claim their ex-employees stole trade secrets and violated patent to set up a competing company, Advanced Disinfection Technologies, of Lebanon, Ohio.
The plaintiffs say Jeffrey Szekely and Ralph Sias conspired to use L-3’s resources to copy L-3’s SteraMist room sterilizer, and sell a copycat product through their own company, ADTec.
Szekely, a former L-3 consultant, is ADTec’s CEO; Sias, of Oceanside, Calif., is a former L-3 employee, according to the federal complaint.
L-3 and Binary Ionization also sued Mark Hale, of Canton, Mich., and Paul Stolz, ADTec’s COO.
The plaintiffs claim that “ADTec’s entire business consists of selling products and services containing plaintiffs’ patented, trade secret and proprietary bio-decontamination technology that was stolen by defendants.”
The complaint adds: “Plaintiffs’ technology, known as binary ionization technology, has become important in military applications as well as all situations involving public health, including hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, dental and veterinary offices, health clubs, cruise ships and more.”
L-3 says its technology charges hydrogen peroxide molecules to create an “electrostatically charged reactive oxidative species” that kills biological agents.
Along with the room fogger, the plaintiffs say they have also developed SteraMist spray guns, chambers, backpacks and hand cleaners.
“SteraMist systems have been used by the United States Biological Combat Assessment System Program and The Airborne Warning and Control System Program,” the plaintiffs say.
They say Szekely worked as a marketing consultant for the SteraMist product line, demonstrating how the devices worked in nursing homes and hospitals.
Sias worked on the executive level as a scientist and engineer, heading L-3’s research and development department, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs claim that after becoming familiar with SteraMist technology, Szekely started his own Michigan-based company while Sias worked on L-3’s time developing a more advanced technology for Szekely’s new venture.
The plaintiffs claim the new technology created by Sias improved the efficacy of SteraMist products, and that since it was developed using their resources, the technology belongs to them.
L-3 and Binary Ionization seeks $15 million in damages for racketeering, misappropriation of trade secrets, violating employee confidentiality contracts and patent infringement.
They are represented by Benjamin Chew with Patton Boggs.