American Tower vs. CellInfo: Was Proprietary Info Taken?

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By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers

In a motion filed June 15, in a Massachusetts District Court, a small data consulting company, CellInfo, claimed American Tower Corp. (ATC) took their “confidential information and trade secrets for the purpose of unfairly competing with CellInfo and improperly benefiting ATC.” The two companies signed a Master Consulting Services Agreement in January of 2017, but CellInfo claims American started developing its own rudimentary version of their application when they began getting requests from ATC employees for algorithms used in its development.

CellInfo describes itself as a small Massachusetts company, founded in 2014, by two former high-school classmates who built “an innovative asset intelligence platform that provides real-time analysis for strategic and tactical business decisions” for companies in the broadband infrastructure business. ATC had, according to the suit, worked with CellInfo for the past two years and “had tailored [their platform] for ATC’s specific needs” because “they did not have any similar platform or software.”

By retrieving, normalizing and analyzing data from disparate sources both inside and outside of ATC, CellInfo believed that it could “unlock untapped revenues for ATC.”  One of the applications of CellInfo’s data was to “quickly and easily determine whether all equipment installed on a cellular tower is allowed to be there and also determine if equipment installed on the tower exceeds wind loading restrictions.”

CellInfo provided a “proof of concept” test of its abilities with ATC’s Brazil office prior to entering into any long-term agreements. The plaintiff said, after a positive test that identified “millions of dollars worth of additional annual cash flow, safety shortcomings and market cap value for ATC,” the defendant terminated the agreement saying they would not use CellInfo’s platform or trade secrets, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff is claiming American violated the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 and Massachusetts’ unfair and deceptive trade practices along with breach of contract.  CellInfo is seeking a jury trial to compensate them for their suit, attorneys’ fees and related expenses, plus “award any other remedy or relief as the Court deems just and equitable.”

An American Tower representative told Inside Towers the company does not comment on cases in litigation.

Published June 26, 2018

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