Tesla is planning on suing five former employees and Australian self-driving car company Zoox. They are alleging theft of proprietary information and trade secrets.
The allegations come as part of two lawsuits filed by Tesla in a U.S. District Court in Northern California.
The first suit is filed against Zoox and four former Tesla employees who had left to join Zoox. The other suit is filed against a single former employee, Guangzhi Cao.
The suit against Zoox claims that the four former employees who left Tesla stole information in order to aid Zoox. This information allowed Zoox to “leapfrog past years of work.”
The complaint names the defendants as Christian Dement, Sydney Cooper, Scott Turner, and Craig Emogh. It says they “absconded with select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer.”
The suit continues to allege “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.” Tesla called the alleged theft “blatant and intentional.”
Tesla outlines in the summary of the suit how Turner sent an email from his work email to his personal email containing two confidential documents.
In the body text of the e-mail, he only wrote “you sly dog you…”. Turner was formerly a manager within the Tesla network.
Dement and Emogh are also accused of similarly sending confidential documents to their personal emails.
The other suit against Cao involves the details of when he left Tesla for Xiaopeng Motors Technology Company.
Commonly known as XMotors, the company is one of China’s biggest autonomous car companies.
They claim that before Cao left, he uploaded over 300,000 files and directories to his personal iCloud account. “When he left, Cao did not return Tesla’s highly confidential information, nor disclose that he had made copies,” says the suit.
“Tesla thus believes that Cao still has, can access at will, and may be using all the source code needed to replicate Tesla’s proprietary autopilot technology, none of which he has a legal right to possess.”
Neither Tesla nor Zoox are strangers to controversy. Time will tell how this new legal battle will affect the self-driving car industry in the coming months and years.