Scientist Accused by State of Stealing Technology for Private Ventures

The state claims Amir Arav, along with an investor, used technology developed in a government institute as the foundation for his own companies.

The State of Israel is suing a scientist and a serial entrepreneur for allegedly using technology stolen from the state as a basis of their companies.

Scientist Amir Arav and biotechnology investor Shlomo Ben Haim stand accused of deliberately committing fraud, the state claimed at the Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday. It is demanding NIS 40 million in compensation.

According to the state, from 1994, Arav worked as a senior scientist at the Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research in Beit Dagan, the official government institute for agriculture, biology, genetics and related sciences in Israel. Ben Haim is a biotechnology researcher who has registered hundreds of patents, mostly for medical devices.

The state claims the two stole technology developed at Volcani to freeze cells, tissue and whole organs and then used it at private companies they own.

While researching cattle and sheep at Volcani, Arav developed cryotechnologies that focused on bovines and ovines with implications for human medicine, claims the state.

The government research administration was "astonished" to discover that Arav was leading a "double life": while doing research at Volcani, Arav set up no less than five companies where he functioned as chief scientist. Work at these companies was based on techniques he invented at Volcani, the state claims.

Ben Haim became involved in 2004 as an investor in Arav's companies. The state claims he knew all along that the companies were based on "technologies and patents stolen" from Volcani and therefore became an accomplice.

The two concealed the intellectual property theft for years, the state claims, and must now return the value of the stolen assets to the state. Arav also stands accused of making false statements about his involvement with the companies he established.

One of the companies involved is Core Dynamics. Its legal counsel, Richard Luthi, commented that the state’s claim lies in the realm between "Chelm and Kafka" and accused the state of "scandalous" conduct.