Upside Foods Sues Ex-Employee Over Secrets

Dec. 13, 2021
A former employee of Upside Foods is being sued over charges that she illegally downloaded sensitive information about the company’s process for growing meat from cells.

A former employee of Upside Foods is being sued over charges that she illegally downloaded sensitive information about the company’s process for growing meat from cells, according to a report in Wired magazine.

The Wired article says that Upside Foods filed suit against Napat Tandikul, a senior research associate who quit the company in April. The day before she left, she downloaded thousands of pages of internal documents, including the design for the bioreactor that actually cultivates the meat cells, the lawsuit charges.

Tandikul, a citizen of Thailand, was planning to leave the U.S. with the trade secrets, the suit charges. Tandikul reportedly admitted downloading the documents but denied that she was planning to take them out of the country or otherwise use them inappropriately.

Upside Foods, formerly known as Memphis Meats, is one of the leading startup companies in the race to commercialize cultivated or “lab-grown” meat. The biggest obstacle is cost-effectiveness – making cultivated meat competitive in price with regular meat.

According to the Wired article, Tandikul was part of a three-person team within Upside Foods called Blue Sky that concentrated on the cost-effectiveness problem. Tandikul was the only member of that team remaining after its core, company cofounder Nicholas Genovese, was fired on April 1 –  ten days before Tanikul allegedly began downloading documents.

Wired reports that Upside and Tandikul, who has returned to Thailand, are negotiating a deal that would possibly include a non-compete clause.

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