There are many precedents for similar lawsuits in the industry. iPhone maker Apple had charged one of its former employees of having stolen trade secrets on its self-driving cars while joining the us subsidiary of Xiaopeng, mentioned here in the Tesla lawsuit. Tesla has long said it is also working on self-driving vehicle technology.
Zoox, for its part, now has as many as 100 ex-Tesla employees among its ranks and mentioned in the suit as having actively courted these Tesla employees and knowingly accepted Tesla's intellectual property. Dement, a former warehouse supervisor, allegedly sent a message from his work email to his personal email address that included four documents with sensitive information.
In a separate case also filed Wednesday, Tesla accused an ex-employee of stealing Tesla's source code and taking it to XPeng, a Chinese startup that makes electric SUVs that look suspiciously similar to Tesla's. "Loved every second of it though".
"Absent immediate relief, Tesla believes Cao and his new employer, [XPeng], will continue to have unfettered access to Tesla's marquee technology, the product of more than five years' work and over hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, which they have no legal right to possess", Tesla wrote in the filing.
Zoox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Tesla did not list Xpeng as a defendant in the lawsuit, but alleged the Chinese startup had "reportedly designed its vehicles around Tesla's open-source patents and has transparently imitated Tesla's design, technology and even its business model".
"After Defendant Emigh joined Zoox, he mistakenly sent an email to Cooper's old Tesla email address, attaching a modified version of a Tesla proprietary document, freshly-emblazoned with the Zoox logo, yet still bearing the layout, design, and other vestiges of the Tesla version - showing, without doubt, that the Defendants are actively using the Tesla information they stole", Tesla said in the suit.
According to Tesla, Cao started uploading the source code to his Apple iCloud account after receiving the job offer from XMotors.
Engineer swiped info before leaving to join Chinese company.
The Tesla lawsuit is the second time in less than a year that someone hired by Xiaopeng has been accused of stealing self-driving trade secrets from a big U.S. tech firm. Tesla also claims Cao recruited another Autopilot employee to XPeng in February. This one was filed against a single former employee, Guangzhi Cao, who went to work for XMotors earlier this year.
The company was not aware of Cao's alleged misconduct and the company has started an internal investigation on the matter, Xiaopeng spokeswoman Marie Cheung said in a statement.