Tesla sues former employees, Zoox for alleged trade secret theft | InfoWatch

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Tesla sues former employees, Zoox for alleged trade secret theft

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 TechCrunch reports.

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

Zoox  has not 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 company has been complying and will comply all applicable laws and regulations.”

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

In one lawsuit, Tesla alleges that Zoox as well as four former employees 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 needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations.” Tesla called the theft “blatant and intentional.”

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

In a separate case, Tesla alleges former employee Guangzhi Cao, who worked on the company’s Autopilot driver assistance feature, stole source code before abruptly quitting in January and taking a job 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 beat 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 reportedly “Autopilot-like” features (called X-Pilot), and now employs at least five of Tesla’s former Autopilot employees, including Cao.”

Tesla said it has “spent hundreds of millions of dollars” and more than five years developing Autopilot. The company claims that Cao’s action 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 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,” the complaint reads.

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