Date
18 August 2018
Walmart will defend itself in a court against claims by a California-based firm that the retail giant stole some technology that helps prolong the shelf life of fresh produce. Photo: Bloomberg
Walmart will defend itself in a court against claims by a California-based firm that the retail giant stole some technology that helps prolong the shelf life of fresh produce. Photo: Bloomberg

Walmart accused of stealing tech related to produce shelf life

A Silicon Valley company has filed a US$2 billion lawsuit against Walmart, accusing the retail giant of stealing its technology related to prolonging the shelf life of produce and reducing spoilage.

In its complaint, Zest Labs and its parent said Walmart’s “Eden” technology to preserve fruit and vegetable freshness “looks, sounds, and functions” like its own Zest Fresh technology, Reuters reports.

Zest said it had worked with Walmart for years on Zest Fresh before the retailer lost interest last November.

It said it was “stunned” in March when Walmart claimed to have developed Eden internally over six months through a “hackathon” among its own engineers, and that it had prevented US$86 million of waste so far.

“In reality, Walmart used its years of unfettered access to plaintiffs’ trade secrets, proprietary information, and know-how to steal the Zest Fresh technology and misappropriate it for Walmart’s own benefit,” the complaint said.

Walmart said it will respond to the complaint in court.

According to Zest, Walmart has estimated US$2 billion of savings over five years from Eden, and said the retailer could save US$15 billion over a decade.

Its lawsuit seeks to recover such savings for Walmart’s alleged theft of trade secrets, unfair competition, breach of contract and other wrongdoing.

Zest Labs, which is based in San Jose, filed its lawsuit at a federal court in Little Rock, Arkansas, according to the report.

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CG/RC

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