A Black airplane pilot has filed an intellectual property lawsuit claiming Delta Air Lines stole his idea for a text messaging app that would significantly decrease flight delays.
Craig Alexander’s lawsuit is asking for more than $1 billion for “stolen trade secrets and the unjust enrichment to Delta,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The lawsuit claims Alexander, who flew Boeing 767s and 757s for Delta, first presented the airline in 2014 with his plans for “QrewLive,” a text massaging program designed to help ensure flights depart on time. Alexander received positive feedback from Delta about the program over the course of several years along with “verbal assurances that Delta would purchase his innovative text messaging platform,” according to the lawsuit.
Delta told Alexander it was no longer interested in his program in 2017.
But the next year, Delta unveiled its Flight Family Communication app that Alexander’s lawsuit claims is based on his idea.
“Captain Alexander spent countless hours and more than $100,000 of his own money developing this innovative, game-changing communications platform for Delta, only to have his own employer steal it right out from under him like a thief in the night,” attorneys from Morgan & Morgan, the law form representing Alexander, said in a statement.
The lawsuit claims Delta has already exponentially reaped the financial benefits of Alexander’s idea and has been saving “hundreds of millions of dollars per year” because of the Flight Family Communication app.
Delta has denied the theft of Alexander’s intellectual property and downplayed his claims as disingenuous.
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,” the company said in a brief statement.
One of the people specifically named in the lawsuit is Delta CEO Ed Bastain, the same person who praised Georgia’s new “improved” racist election laws that critics say contribute to the voter suppression of Black people, in particular.
While critics pointed out how Georgia’s Senate Republicans continued adding an increased number of voting barriers to the bill before it was signed into law, Bastian wrote in March that the “legislation signed this week improved considerably during the legislative process.”
He added: “We understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation, and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort.”
Alexander’s lawsuit is similar in nature to one filed earlier this year against the NCAA by a former basketball coach who claimed the body governing collegiate athletics had “stolen” his idea to showcase players at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) during one of the sport’s biggest events.
Travis L. Williams, who used to coach at Tennessee State University and Fort Valley State University — HBCUs — as well as on other levels and internationally, claimed in his lawsuit that he got cut out of a deal for an HBCU All-Star game at the Final Four for which the NCAA had already secured lucrative TV rights. A marketing firm and the NCAA moved ahead without Williams’ participation and instead offered him “a small consulting role,” according to Wiliams’ lawyer, civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Williams turned down the offer. His lawsuit is centered on the alleged “impropriety of stealing this idea from an African American for the company’s own gain.”