A tech ‘start-up’ has confirmed in the US that former Tesla employees had confidential Tesla documents relating to shipping, receiving, and warehouse procedures even though they had already left the company.
As Tesla had strongly suspected, a number of former employees did steal confidential documents as they left the company, before going on to join a competitor during 2019.
Tesla made their allegations public back in March 2019, when the very well-known electric vehicle manufacturer filed a lawsuit against Zoox, a self-driving start-up also with an HQ in California. It was alleged in the filing that 4 ex-Tesla employees stole trade secrets including receiving & inventory procedures, internal schematics & line drawings of warehouse, & documents relating to the company’s HR policies, before then going on to join Zoox.
Zoox was the 1st company to be legally allowed to transport people in electric vehicles in the State of California, & it is now thought to be working on a revolutionary bidirectional, electric, self-driving commercial ‘Robotaxi’ service.
Tesla was totally vindicated this week when Zoox confirmed that those ex-Tesla employees were indeed actually in possession of Tesla documents when they went on to join Zoox in Spring 2019.
“Zoox acknowledges that certain of its new hires from Tesla were in possession of Tesla documents pertaining to shipping, receiving, and warehouse procedures when they joined Zoox’s logistics team, and Zoox regrets the actions of those employees,” the company stated via a press release.
This then resulted in the company immediately settling the existing Tesla lawsuit, & Zoox now claims it will pay the company an undisclosed amount, & also perform an ‘audit’ in order to fully verify that none of its employees retained or are still using any of Tesla’s confidential information.
According to details that were lodged with the court, much of the confidential information actually related to ‘WARP’. ‘WARP’ is a software platform that TESLA uses to manage its own manufacturing, warehousing, inventory, distribution, transportation, and implementation systems.
Employees also had sent some data to themselves through email in breach of IP rules. This included information on a “Service Campaign” that concerned its Falcon Wing doors for its ‘Model X’ vehicle, confidential parts pricing information, inventory control procedures, a document on the company’s standards for workplace safety & efficiency, & internal schematics & line drawings of physical layouts of Tesla’s warehouses.
Tesla’s former employees did certainly know that the information that they stole were ‘restricted trade secret information’, & although there were non-disclosure agreements in place designed to prevent this, it doesn’t seem that there were any measures in place to stop it from occurring. The company has stated that it forbids employees from ever sending any confidential information to any unauthorised 3rd parties, “and even to employees’ own personal email addresses,” however, that rule was relayed to employees via a written letter, & not via any form of technology.
Lawsuits about IP in Silicon Valley are very common these days, but in the ‘cutting-edge’ self-driving car technology industry, things have vastly ‘ramped-up’ of late. Increasingly, as more companies compete to get their vehicles on the road, they’ve had to act in court rooms to ensure that their valuable intellectual property (IP) continue to remain closely classified.