Two of the US’s biggest electric vehicle manufacturers continue to dispute a lawsuit involving poaching talent & stealing trade secrets.
One company, Rivian Automotive, that makes electric SUVs & pickups, is asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the company by competitor Tesla.
Tesla sued the Michigan-based company earlier this summer, alleging that it poached its employees, & encouraged 1 employee to steal trade secrets. In the suit, Tesla claimed that about 70 people have left the company for Rivian, 22 in the last 4 months.
Although Tesla doesn’t sell trucks & SUVs like Rivian, it says it has over 500,000 orders for its ‘Cybertruck’, a pickup truck it plans to launch in 2021, & that Tesla is “Rivian’s no. 1 target from which to acquire information, including trade secret, confidential, & proprietary information.”
In a July complaint, Tesla claims that 13 of Rivian’s recruiters are former Tesla employees, all are “familiar with Tesla’s several agreements, policies, & practices that forbid Tesla employees, including former employees, from disclosing Tesla’s confidential & proprietary information to Tesla’s competitors & other 3rd parties.” That has not prevented them from taking the company’s data, Tesla alleges.
On their way out, Tesla claims at least one ex-employee stole highly sensitive trade secret compensation & bonus information for Tesla sales personnel for use at Rivian, including base pay rates, target bonuses, new hire equity awards, & incentive-based compensation numbers.”
Two other employees took various files, including candidate lists, Tesla recruiting organisational charts, information about Tesla recruiters, & companies from which Tesla sources candidates, manufacturing project management, controls specifications for manufacturing equipment, specifications regarding manufacturing robots, & manufacturing equipment requirements.
Trade Secret Theft
Rivian last week asked a judge in the California Superior Court in Santa Clara to dismiss the suit, claiming that 2 of the 3 claims fail to state sufficient allegations of trade secret theft. Instead, Rivian claims, the suit is an attempt to damage its reputation & make recruiting more troublesome for the company.
Lawyers for Rivian filed a ‘notice of demurrer’ – formally objecting to 2 of Tesla’s claims last Mon.
“Tesla did not file this case to defend or protect any legitimate intellectual property rights,” Rivian said in its motion. “Tesla sued in an improper & malicious attempt to slow Rivian’s momentum & attempt to damage Rivian’s brand.”
The company also claimed it has “rigorous policies & procedures to make sure it does not obtain confidential information from other companies when on-boarding employees” & that no Tesla trade secrets have been found at any of its operations.
Tesla has shown before that it will defend its trade secrets.
It has an current lawsuit against ex-employee Martin Tripp after the theft of several Gb of confidential trade secret information; Tripp later claimed to be a whistle-blower decrying the business’ security & safety. Earlier in 2020, Zoox, another self-driving company, settled with the company after agreeing some of its employees who previously worked at Tesla had Tesla files when they joined the company.