(CN) – A promoter claims Red Bull energy drink swiped confidential plans for a stunt in which a skydiver will leap from 24.6 miles above the Earth to try to break a 50-year-old record. Daniel Hogan claims he pitched the “SpaceDive” to Red Bull in 2004, and that Red Bull feigned disinterest, only to rename it the Red Bull Stratos dive.
In his complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court, Hogan claims the daredevil stunt would be worth $375 million to $625 million in advertising to any corporate sponsor.
Hogan says he pitched the idea to Red Bull as a “marriage of daredevil, record-breaking ‘stuntsmanship’ and cutting-edge technology.”
After a year of talks, during which Hogan says Red Bull executives encouraged him to reveal the minutest details of the project, the company backed out.
But in January this year, it announced its own Red Bull Stratos dive, which Hogan said is precisely the project he pitched except for two things: the name was been changed and he was cut out of it.
Hogan seeks an injunction to halt the project, disgorgement of any profits and punitive damages. He also seeks a declaration that Red Bull has certain, specific duties to him.
Hogan said his “SpaceDive” is based on dive made by Air Force pilot Col. Joe Kittinger on Aug. 16, 1960. Wearing a spacesuit, Kittinger rode a helium balloon into the stratosphere, then jumped from 102,800 feet, landing alive in the New Mexico desert.
Hogan claims that because of technological advances, it is possible not only to beat Kittinger’s altitude record, but to achieve another first: having a skydiver reach supersonic speed.
Hogan’s dive would be made from 130,000 feet, about 5 miles higher than Kittinger’s, the complaint states.
To bring his plan to fruition, Hogan says he assembled a team that included Per Lindstrand, who holds the hot-air balloon altitude record and agreed to have his Lindstrand Technologies create the craft to ferry the diver, and Zvezda, a Russian company that agreed to develop the spacesuit.
Other participants were Dr. Coy Foster, a former NASA flight surgeon, Dr. Steve Lingard, an expert in the aerodynamics of the human body, and filmmaker Slim McDonald, Hogan says.
He claims that in meetings, emails and other communications defendants Red Bull GmbH and Red Bull North America elicited specifications for the gondola to be used, the spacesuit, the timeline for developing and testing the equipment, and a list of potential corporate partners.
But on Oct. 13, 2005, Hogan says the company sent him an email stating that “after a very detailed investigation of your proposal, we finally came to the conclusion that we would not like to continue our joint work on the space Dive project.”
Four years and 4 months later, the company announced Red Bull Stratos, which it called a “mission to the edge of space,” which would “expand the boundaries of aerospace exploration by attempting to become the first person ever to break the speed of sound with the human body.”
Red Bull’s statement quoted Col, Kittinger as saying that despite numerous past failures to break his record, Red Bull Stratos was likely to succeed, according to the complaint.
Kittinger attributed his optimism in part to “the dedication of Red Bull.”
Corporate participants include National Geographic and the BBC, which have agreed to produce a documentary, and Nokia and Microsoft, Hogan says.
“Red Bull never acknowledged the plaintiff’s role on Red Bull Stratos,” nor has it offered to compensate him for his contributions or sought permission to use information that he disclosed in confidence, Hogan says.
Other defendants include Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, Dietrich Mateschitz, Arthur Thompson, and Sage Cheshire Inc.
Hogan and his company, Perdan LLC, are represented by lead attorney Gretchen Nelson, with Kreindler & Kreindler of Los Angeles.
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