Attabotics, Urbx settle litigation over robotic storage patents

Following mutual resolution, both startups agree to no more public statements.

Two robotics supply-chain startups battling over a pair of patents have announced that they have amicably resolved the litigation between them.

Calgary-based robotics startup Attabotics made the initial complaint. It alleged that Urbx, a Boston, Mass.-based fulfillment automation company, infringed two patents held by Attabotics, by “making, importing, using, selling, and/or offering to sell in the United States a robotic storage and retrieval system embodying [Attabotics’] patented invention.”

But as noted in the parties’ joint motion to dismiss dated June 12, 2023, which was granted by the district court, the parties have reached a mutual resolution. In June, a United States (US) court partially rejected Urbx’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The firms said there will be no further public statements or disclosures regarding the specific terms of their agreement.

The firms said in a statement in early September that out of respect for the confidentiality of the process and in compliance with the agreement reached, there will be no further public statements or disclosures regarding the specific terms of the agreement.

Urbx and Attabotics both operate in the automated fulfillment space, and aim to help close the last-mile delivery gap by replacing the rows and aisles of traditional fulfillment centres with robots and taller, more condensed structures that leverage vertical storage space.

Currently, Attabotics holds the rights to the two patents related to robotic storage and retrieval.

More recently, Attabotics filed a statement of claim against Canadian Tire over a March 15 warehouse fire at Canadian Tire’s distribution centre in Brampton, Ont.

Attabotics alleges that as a result of Canadian Tire’s “alleged evasiveness and obstruction,” it has suffered and continues to suffer damages for which Canadian Tire is liable.

In its statement of claim, Attabotics wrote, “The Warehouse Fire occurred as a direct result of the wrongful conduct, statutory breaches, breaches of contract, gross negligence, willful misconduct, negligence, and recklessness of Canadian Tire.” Attabotics did not expand on what that recklessness entailed.

No cause was given for the fire, which cost Canadian Tire $74.6 million according to the retailer’s second quarterly results of 2023. The costs are related to lost inventory, building damage, and cleanup and repairs.

Related: Attabotics secures $95 million CAD from EDC, Ontario Teachers’ to scale its warehouse robots

Attabotics had been working with Canadian Tire as part of a project funded by Scale AI, Canada’s artificial intelligence and supply chain cluster. Funded in part by the federal and Quebec governments, Scale AI announced a $71-million investment to support 12 AI projects in 2021.

Founded in 2015, Attabotics describes itself as “the world’s first 3D robotics supply chain system for modern commerce.” The startup seeks to reduce warehouse needs and enable retailers to place robot-powered fulfillment centres closer to urban areas. The startup has fulfillment centres across North America, and has been adopted by apparel, food and beverage, and home goods brands, including Nordstrom. Attabotics has more than 300 employees.

Attabotics has attracted more than $106.8 million CAD ($83 million USD) in investments from Canadian pension plans and US-based private equity and venture capital. The startup raised $66 million CAD in a Series C round in 2020, and $95-million CAD Series C-1 in 2022.

Feature image courtesy Attabotics.

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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