© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A banh mi sandwich made with Impossible Pork patty at the headquarters of Impossible Foods in Silicon Valley, in San Francisco, California, US, December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Richa Naidu/File Photo
By Blake Brittain
(Reuters) – Motif Foodworks told a federal court in Delaware that meat competitor Impossible Foods improperly hired undercover investigators who provided false information to inquire about Motif’s products during a patent dispute.
In documents not changed Tuesday, Motif said researchers who pretended to represent potential partners began approaching them for samples and other information about its meat replacement Impossible Foods shortly after Motif filed a patent infringement lawsuit.
Motif said in one of the filings that Impossible’s use of “false information” to gain information was “dangerous” and “unacceptable.”
A Motif spokeswoman said Thursday that the documents “speak for themselves.” The company has denied claims of a breach by Impossible.
Impossible’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. The company told the court that Motif’s filings included “exaggerated statements” and were “an attempt by Motif to undermine its patent infringement.”
“It is common, and traditional, for patent owners to find and monitor infringing products – such as Motif’s – on the market,” Impossible said.
Redwood (NYSE:) City, California-based Impossible Sued Motif, a Boston-based spinoff of biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks, last year. The lawsuit alleges that the “Hemami” used in Motif’s burgers violates the Unenforceable Claims related to the “beef formula” that also uses heme protein.
A Delaware judge denied Motif’s request to drop most of the claims last year.
Motif employees told the court that they had been approached by people claiming to work in the fast food and food service industry who were interested in its products.
A Motif employee said in the filing that the woman who claimed to be representing the food group, Sarah Jamil, appeared under the name “Sarah Nasir” in the video before changing her name in the process. The employee said he later found Sarah Nasir on LinkedIn who is the managing partner of a private equity firm called Integrity One Solutions.
A Motif employee also said the supposed food company’s website, Food4Thought, was “nonsense” and did not identify the people it claimed to represent.
Integrity One and Food4Thought did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Motif employee said he was approached at a trade show in San Francisco by a man named Lindon Lilly who said he sources plant-based food for an unknown fast food source. The employee said he later found a LinkedIn profile for Lilly that listed him as the president of “California Active Shooter Academy LLC” and did not disclose any connection to the food industry.
A San Francisco-based company called Rhino Investigation, founded by a man named Lindon Lilly, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Motif asked the court to order Impossibility to disclose additional information and requested a defense license to disclose its information.
The case is Impossible Foods Inc v. Motif Foodworks Inc, US Supreme Court for the District of Delaware, No. 1:22-cv-00311.
Impossible: Matthew Reed, Wendy Devine and Lori Westin of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
For Motif: Joseph Paunovich, Sandra Haberny, Ryan Landes and Stephen Wood of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan