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Tesla accuses start-up, former employees of stealing trade secrets

Two California companies very familiar with each other find themselves embroiled in a legal dispute over trade secrets. According to documents filed in court, electric automaker Tesla is accusing four former employees of stealing trade secrets and then providing them to Zoox, a start-up developing autonomous vehicle technology.

Tesla says that the use of its proprietary information has allowed Foster City’s Zoox to accelerate development of its self-driving tech. The scheme to swipe “steal Tesla’s proprietary information and trade secrets” has helped “Zoox leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations,” Tesla stated in court documents.

Tesla says the quartet of former employees violated their employment contracts by emailing Tesla documents from work email accounts to personal email addresses. The files allegedly forwarded by email include inventory documents, schematics and other proprietary data.

Tesla said it learned of the arrangement when one of the former employees (now working at Zoox) sent an email to another former employee’s Tesla email account with an attached internal company document, unchanged except that it now had a Zoox logo on it.

Business Insider says Zoox has more than 100 former Tesla employees on its staff.

A recent news article points out that the allegations in the Zoox case are similar to those made when an engineer left Google’s Waymo for Uber, allegedly taking more than 14,000 company documents. That case has been settled.

In order to cost-effectively resolve trade secret disputes favorably, speak with a San Diego law firm experienced in representing both plaintiffs and defendants in intellectual property litigation.