On Friday, July 20, the San Diego–based genomics company Human Longevity, Inc. filed a lawsuit against the J. Craig Venter Institute. The company has accused Craig Venter, who founded Human Longevity (HLI) and left in late May, of stealing trade secrets, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, although it is not suing Venter personally.
According to STAT News, Venter took the trade secrets on his company computer when he departed and then tried to use them to start a competing business, luring HLI investors and employees into his new venture. Before leaving, Venter had signed an agreement with HLI that he would not poach employees or investors.
In a statement provided to STAT News and The Union-Tribune, Steven Strauss, an attorney for the J. Craig Venter Institute, said the accusations were “baseless, without merit, and contain numerous factual errors.” The statement did not specify the errors, but noted, “HLI is one of many companies to have been spun out of the not-for-profit research efforts of the J. Craig Venter Institute and its founder, J. Craig Venter, a renowned genomics pioneer who remains a shareholder in HLI.”
Strauss’s statement also says the institute would “vigorously defend against these allegations as the legal process advances.”
Last year, another of Venter’s companies, Synthetic Genomics, faced a suit for gender discrimination.