The simmering rivalry between Israeli cloud security unicorns Orca and Wiz erupted in the open Wednesday with Orca filing a dramatic lawsuit claiming patent infringements, intellectual property theft and even marketing copycat behavior.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. district court of Delaware, pits two of the biggest names in the cloud security start-up space — Orca raised $632 million in VC funding; Wiz last raised $300 million at $10B valuation — in a legal battle that brings into focus the mushrooming of multiple competing startups hawking almost exactly the same tools for securing cloud data at scale.
“Wiz has built its business on a simple business plan: copy Orca,” the company said in the lawsuit (PDF), accusing Wiz of infringing on a pair of patents — U.S. Patent Nos. 11,663,031 and 11,663,032 — to create “a copycat cloud security platform.”
The patents cover techniques for securing virtual cloud assets at rest and blueprints for securing virtual machines by application use analysis. They were granted to Orca Security less than two months ago with Orca’s founder Avi Shua listed as the inventor. The patents were filed in August 2021 and November 2022.
Orca accused Wiz of recruiting its former patent attorney to “to copy Orca’s intellectual property and even the figures from Orca’s patents.”
“[Wiz has] forced Orca to compete against its own technological breakthroughs in the marketplace,” the company said, asking the U.S. courts to block Wiz from signing any new businesses with technologies that allegedly infringe on its patents. Orca is also seeking monetary damages.
While both companies are based in Israel, Wiz is a registered Delaware company with official headquarters in New York.
In the cybersecurity business, the surge in venture capital investments have led to the creation of multiple startups hawking similar tools, especially in the cloud security, data security, email security and API security categories.
At trade shows and corporate conferences, these companies openly compete with similar marketing messages, buzzwords and threat landscape data. However, Orca is accusing Wiz of taking it a step too far.
“This copying is replete throughout Wiz’s business and has manifested in myriad ways. In its marketing, Wiz copies Orca’s imagery, its message, and even the coffee it uses at trade shows,” Orca said, listing multiple examples of what it repeatedly called “widespread copying” of its ideas.
“Wiz even copied the more mundane aspects of Orca’s marketing,” Orca added. “For example, at a multi-day security conference in London, Orca decided that it would break away from typical technology booths and instead sponsor a coffee booth. Wiz attended the same conference. On the first day, Wiz sponsored a typical technology booth. The following day, Wiz showed up with its own coffee machine. Just like Orca.”
In the filing, Orca claims its founder showcased the cloud security technology to Wiz founders in May 2019. At the time, the Wiz founders were working at Microsoft. “Within months, the Wiz founders left their lucrative careers at Microsoft to start Wiz, build a clone of Orca’s technology, and compete directly with Orca.” the company argued in the suit.
In a statement, a Wiz spokesperson dismissed Orca’s claims. “We are keeping our focus on our customers and our business. Orca is pursuing less innovative methods in their attempts to compete; these claims are baseless.”