Did Google engineers steal the idea of Project Loon from a company that was already testing weather balloons to distribute the internet? That's what Space Data Corporation alleges, having filed a lawsuit against the search engine in California this Monday. According to the complaint, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Google X representatives met with SDC way back in 2007. At the time, it looked as if Google might invest in SDC, and as part of the negotiations, both parties signed an NDA. Space Data then shared its top-secret research on how to make the system work in reality -- thinking that its ideas were protected by the agreement.
Except, given that Google didn't invest in Space Data and Loon is an active Google project, we know that it didn't work out. The document explains that Google pulled out of the deal because SDC had blabbed about it to the Wall Street Journal. But Space Data says that the terms of the NDA were never explicitly withdrawn, so Google's been infringing its patents and working with stolen IP for the last eight years. SDC claims that its business has been "irreparably injured" thanks to Google's "willful and malicious" misappropriation of trade secrets. We can't wait to find out how this one goes.