Home News Tesla sues former employees, Zoox for alleged trade secret theft

Tesla sues former employees, Zoox for alleged trade secret theft

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Tesla has filed a pair of lawsuits against a handful of former employees who went to work at self-driving vehicle startup Zoox and Chinese EV automaker Xiaopeng.

The separate lawsuits filed Wednesday allege former Tesla employees stole trade secrets and used them at their new places of employment. Tesla declined to comment on each lawsuit.

Zoox hasn’t responded to request for comment. Xiaopeng, also referred to as XMotors and XPeng, told TechCrunch it “respects any third-party’s intellectual property rights and confidential information. The business has been complying and will honor all applicable laws and regulations. ”

While both lawsuits hinge on different trade secrets, they both share certain similarities: allegations of workers taking valuable and sensitive information since they left Tesla.

In one lawsuit, Tesla alleges that Zoox and four former workers Scott Turner, Sydney Cooper, Christian Dement, and Craig Emigh, have made “concerted efforts “to steal Tesla’s proprietary information and trade secrets to help Zoox leapfrog past years of work required to develop and operate its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations. ” Tesla known as the theft “blatant and intentional. ”

Tesla claims in the complaint that the four former workers took “pick proprietary Tesla documents useful for their new employer, and at least one of them used Tesla’s confidential information to target other Tesla workers for hiring by Zoox. In the process, they misappropriated Tesla’s trade secrets, violated their agreements with Tesla, and breached their duties of loyalty, with the knowledge and support of Zoox. ”

In a separate case, Tesla alleges former worker Guangzhi Cao, who worked on the company’s Autopilot driver assistance feature, stole source code before suddenly quitting in January and taking work XPeng. Tesla refers to the company as XMotors in its complaint.

“Tesla’s confidential information is not safe in the hands of XMotors or its employees,” the complaint reads. “Inspired by and on a mission to conquer Tesla, XMotors reportedly designed its vehicles around Tesla’s open-source patents and has transparently imitated Tesla’s design, technology, and even its business model. XMotors has also introduced “Autopilot-like” features (known as X-Pilot), and now employs at least five of Tesla’s former Autopilot workers, including Cao. ”

Tesla said it has “spent hundreds of millions of dollars” and over five years developing Autopilot. The business asserts that Cao’s actions have put that investment is at risk.

“Tesla must learn what Cao has done with Tesla’s IP, to whom he has given it, and the degree to which Tesla has been harmed. Tesla documents this lawsuit to compel the return of its valuable IP and protect it from further exploitation, and for other relief as the facts may warrant,” the complaint reads.

XMotors has launched an internal investigation and said it “has by no means caused or attempted to induce Mr. Cao to misappropriate trade secrets, proprietary and confidential information of Tesla, whether these allegations by Tesla being authentic or not. ”

This isn’t the first time Tesla or its CEO Elon Musk have filed lawsuits against several workers before, a few of which have been viewed as acts of retribution. In 2017, Tesla dropped its lawsuit just weeks after its initial filing against Sterling Anderson, former director of Autopilot, and Aurora, the self-driving vehicle startup he co-founded, after the two parties reached an agreement.

Tesla filed a lawsuit in December seeking $167 million against former worker Martin Tripp, the former worker who Musk has known as a saboteur. The lawsuit, originally filed in June and seeking just $1 million at the time, alleges Tripp stole confidential and trade secret information, and gave it to third parties.

Tripp, filed a formal whistleblower trick to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging Tesla misled investors and put its clients at risk.

Read both lawsuits below.


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