Seattle-based pet insurance company Trupanion is suing the founder of an app it acquired, alleging that he stole trade secrets and violated agreements after joining a new company that later released a competing product.
In October 2020, Trupanion acquired BabelBark, an app that helped connect consumers with pet-related services and assisted with management of pet health records.
According to the suit, filed Sept. 26 in King County Superior Court, BabelBark CEO and co-founder Roy Stein agreed to a three-year “restricted period” deal that would prevent him from hiring Trupanion or BabelBark employees. He agreed to not provide information to competitors that would help them do business with Trupanion customers, the suit says.
Trupanion also paid Stein $50,000 for a consulting agreement that obligated Stein to maintain confidentiality of Trupanion intellectual property in perpetuity, according to the suit.
Stein joined Colorado-based pet care company Destination Pet in April 2021 as COO and president, according to his LinkedIn.
Trupanion alleges that Stein then hired three former BabelBark employees who had joined Trupanion as part of the acquisition.
In May of last year, Destination Pet released a pet care management app called Yourgi — which Trupanion alleges is “substantively identical” to the BabelBark app.
Trupanion claims that Destination Pet and Stein infringed upon the BabelBark intellectual property and misappropriated the company’s trade secrets. It accuses Stein of violating agreements when he hired his former colleagues.
Trupanion also claims the defendants violated the Washington state Consumer Protection Act. It is asking the court for an award of damages incurred and temporary and permanent injunctive relief preventing Destination Pet from operating the Yourgi app.
Trupanion declined to comment when contacted by GeekWire. We reached out to Destination Pet and Stein, and their lawyer, but did not hear back.
Stein, who co-founded BabelBark in 2015, left Destination Pet in August 2022, according to his LinkedIn. He’s now operating partner at LetterOne, an investment business headquartered in Luxembourg. He previously co-founded Energy Points and sold the analytics startup to Lux Research in 2015.
Trupanion, originally founded in Canada in 1998, went public in 2014. The company reported $270.6 million in second quarter revenue, up 23% year-over-year. It has more than 1.6 enrolled pets.
Destination Pet operates a network of pet resorts and veterinary clinics in more than 31 states, including Washington. It acquired Pet Palace Pet Boarding Resort in June.
Read the full complaint below.