Tesla Alleges Ex-Employees Working For Competitors Stole Trade Secrets

Tesla sued former employees last week, alleging that they stole trade secrets and misused them to benefit rival start up companies Zoox and Chinese EV automaker Xiaopeng, according to the International Business Times.

Surprisingly, Huawei was not mentioned in the suits.

The lawsuits seek damages for the theft, with one alleging that four former employees of Tesla, Scott Turner, Christian Dement, Craig Emigh and Sydney Cooper, misused proprietary information for boosting Zoox’s warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations. The lawsuit claims “blatant and intentional” use of Tesla's proprietary technologies by Zoox. 

The suit also says that the former employees stole “select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer.”

A second lawsuit claims that former employee Guangzhi Cao stole code from Tesla's Autopilot driver assistance. The complaint alleged that Cao stole highly sensitive source code before abruptly quitting the job to join Xiaopeng. Cao allegedly copied more than 300,000 files of Autopilot source code. Xiaopeng’s investors include Alibaba and Foxconn.

The suit says Xiaopeng introduced “Autopilot-like” features around the time it hired five former Autopilot employees of Tesla, including Cao. 

The suit says:

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

And the suits aren't without precedent.

For instance, Apple recently sued a former employee for stealing trade secrets on its self-driving cars after they joined Xiaopeng's U.S. subsidiary. Additionally, Waymo sued Uber recently after one of its executives joined Uber as the head of a self-driving car project. Waymo charged that the employee stole confidential data and Uber had to pay $245 million to settle the case.