A Delta Air Lines pilot is suing his employer, claiming the airline stole his intellectual property in the form of crew messaging app in order to create a competing app that has “conservatively” saved the company over $1 billion.
Techie Pilot Sues Delta Air Lines For Stealing His App
In his lawsuit filed in a Georgia State Court in Atlanta, Captain Craig Alexander claims he developed an app called QrewLive that was aimed a facilitating conversation between crew members, particularly when flights were disrupted. He claims to have spent over $100,000 of his own money developing the product.
After a power outage in 2016 cost Delta $150 million, Alexander emailed CEO Ed Bastian, telling him that he had a solution. He was referred by Bastian to Delta Chief Information Officer Rahul Saman (both named in the lawsuit), and a multi-year discussion began on Delta utilizing and acquiring Alexander’s QrewLive app.
The lawsuit claims the Delta suddenly broke off discussion and in 2018 launched Flight Family Communications, a “carbon copy, knock-off of the role-based text messaging component of Craig’s proprietary QrewLive communications platform.”
Alexander notes both Bastian and Saman have talked publicly about the value of the app and arrived at his amount in controversy, arguing “based solely upon operational cost savings to Delta, conservatively exceeds $1 billion.”
However a Delta spokesperson takes issue with the facts alleged in Alexander’s complaint:
“While we take the allegations specified in Mr. Alexander’s complaint seriously, they are not an accurate or fair description of Delta’s development of its internal crew messaging platform.”
Still, Alexander’s lawsuit will move forward and he is also seeking punitive damages.
“To add insult to theft and injury, Captain Craig Alexander must use his stolen QrewLive text messaging platform every day while he works for Delta. Each time he looks at the FFC app, he is painfully reminded that Delta stole his proprietary trade secrets, used them to Delta’s enormous financial benefit.”
Unlike many of the lawsuits in which a disgruntled employees sues their airline, this case is much more persuasive, if the facts verify the allegations. While it isn’t clear based upon the complaint filed, this will be an interesting case to watch.