Matthews International, EV automaker Tesla at odds over lawsuit



Matthews International is a company that according to this rating action from Fitch, collects 45% of its revenue from its Memorialization Segment and also brings home approximately 60% of its EBITDA from that source.  As you may know, Matthews International is the parent company of Aurora Casket and Matthews Cremation and  other death care businesses.  However, they are a diversified company and have a segment of the company in what I would term the electric battery solution system for the emerging EV automobile industry.


It is in that “electrical battery solutions” segment that Matthews was sued by EV automobile producer Tesla in mid-June.  Here is an article from Electrek that states within the article:


“The company (Tesla) filed a lawsuit in California court today against Matthews International, which it describes as a supplier of “Tesla’s proprietary dry-electrode battery manufacturing technology”, for streaming its trade secrets.

Tesla says that it selected Matthews in 2019 to be “one of its suppliers for equipment that Tesla used to refine its dry-electrode battery manufacturing and to put it into mass-production.” The automaker says that the supplier agreed to a confidentiality agreement and not to share its technology with other clients.

The automaker claims Matthews stole its trade secrets in two ways: filing for patents that include Tesla technology and selling its technology to other clients.”


In response to that lawsuit, which purportedly asks for $1 billion in damages, Matthews International issued this press release entitled, “Matthews International refutes Tesla allegations“.   The following is part of that press release statement:


“On Friday evening, June 14, 2024, Tesla filed a complaint in Federal District Court in the Northern District of California. The claims stated in this threadbare complaint are utterly without merit and we intend to vigorously defend the matter. Notably, the complaint vaguely references trade secrets, but fails to identify even one trade secret that Tesla purportedly disclosed to Matthews. We are continuing to evaluate this complaint and may pursue legal remedies.

Contrary to the allegations in the complaint, Tesla’s lawsuit is simply a new tactic in their ongoing efforts to bully Matthews and improperly take Matthews’ valuable intellectual property. Furthermore, Tesla’s complaint attempts to restrict us from offering our innovative solutions to others, preventing the market from significantly benefiting from the savings associated with our dry battery electrode (“DBE”) solutions, and thus interfering with Matthews’ ability to realize the value of our intellectual property. . . “


Related Article—  Tesla sued its former supplier for stealing EV battery secrets.  Quartz

Related Article —  Matthews International fires back after Tesla files lawsuit in California.  WPXI – Pittaburgh, Pittsburgh Business Times  (PA)


Funeral Director Daily take —  As a small business owner I tried to avoid lawsuits at all costs.  I’m just not a person that likes conflict. . .so I try to resolve issues as soon as possible.  As a small business owner that strategy worked for me.  Over my 40-year career I’ve never been sued or sued anybody else. . What issues we had were able to be worked out prior to getting that far.


Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

I’m also aware of a quote that goes like this, “Conflict is inevitable. . . combat is a choice”.   I always looked rationaly at the issues involved and, in some cases, gave in somewhat on a disagreement to settle the issue and avoid combat over an issue that I didn’t think needed to be elevated to that level.


However, I realize that I was in small business and my issues were small compared to the issue at hand in this lawsuit.  However, I do have experience in large scale, high dollar lawsuits also. . .


When I served as a Board Member for the University of Minnesota I served six years on the Litigation Committee, most of it as the Vice-Chair, and was Chairman of the committee for a short period of time when one Board Member had left and before his replacement took over. . . . .There was lots of high dollar cases, mostly dealing with the inventions and patents by the University and if the companies that we were associated with were following the dictates of the various agreements. . .


Sometimes we got sued and sometimes we were the plaintiff in these actions.  Even though these were big issues as compared to my funeral home, I always took the same tact and tried to avoid “combat”.  At the University “we won a few” and “we lost a few”. . . .


Stay tuned and we will see what happens with the Tesla/Matthews disagreement.


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