Tesla sues Zoox in the latest lawsuit between self-driving car companies

Tesla filed lawsuits against several former employees and their new employers, including self-driving startup Zoox, for stealing Tesla’s trade secrets.


March 22, 2019

Tesla filed lawsuits Wednesday against 4 former employees and their new employer, Zoox, accusing them of stealing Tesla trade secrets.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has had a trade-secret tussle with one of its own employees. But it’s not just Musk-made mayhem — from Uber to Waymo, other self-driving carmakers have also been slingin’ ’suits back and forth like freakin’ frisbees.

Responding to an ‘absconding’

According to Tesla, the 4 employees “absconded with select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer” in order “to help Zoox leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations.”

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.

Trademark tensions at Tesla have been running high for a while: Last June, Tesla sued a disgruntled ex-employee for exporting gigabytes of confidential data.

It all started with Levandowski… 

In 2017, Uber and Waymo became embroiled in a widely publicized trial that revolved around ex-Google Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski stealing Google’s trade secrets and bringing them to Uber. 

The Levandowski scandal was the start of several sticky-finger situations across the self-driving industry, including several lawsuits at Tesla (despite his debacle, Dirty ’Dowski now runs his own startup, Otto).

Since there are so few engineers with experience building self-driving cars, they are in fierce demand — and when they move from one company to another, accusations often follow suit.

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