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Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that Walt Disney World had plans to launch driverless vehicles to shuttle guests around the resort. Now, that plan is reportedly in limbo due to a complicated legal battle between two companies involved in the creation of those vehicles, according to Jalopnik.

  • Meridian and Phoenix Wings had reportedly inked a deal in 2016 to bring autonomous vehicles to Walt Disney World.
  • Now, the two companies are involved in a legal battle over the intellectual property that would have led to the creation of those vehicles.
  • Meridian attempted to acquire Phoenix in 2016 but allegedly changed the previously-agreed-upon terms in the final deal.
  • After the deal fell through, Phoenix’s team abandoned a Meridian-funded facility where they were working on the vehicles, just weeks before a planned demonstration at Walt Disney World.
  • Meridian alleged Phoenix stole property from the facility when they left and the legal battle has gone on ever since.
  • The deal with Disney, the sale of these autonomous vehicles and the licensing of the technology would reportedly be worth $595 million by 2021.
  • Last month, several counts in Meridian’s complaint against Phoenix Wings were dismissed by U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick and both sides were asked to provide additional arguments.
  • According to Jalopnik, a decision could be handed down at any time.

What they’re saying:

  • Phoenix Wings’ lawsuit against Meridian: “This case is about the attempted hijacking of valuable intellectual property related to self-driving [autonomous] transportation technology by an opportunist and the companies that he controls and [Meridian’s] continuing efforts to try to wrongfully ‘cash-in’ on the intellectual property even after their larger scheme to completely hijack the technology failed.”
  • Meridian’s complaint regarding what was taken from their facility: “The property removed included all of the demonstration shuttles, including the shuttle intended for use at the Disney Demonstration.”

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