Tesla is claiming that self-driving startup Zoox stole secrets regarding its logistica and inventory system through several former employees leaving with “trade secrets”, according to a new lawsuit.

Zoox is a relatively secretive startup that has been developing a fully electric and autonomous vehicle.

You’d think that if Tesla would have an intellectual property issue with them it would be about self-driving, but Tesla is actually claiming that Zoox has stolen “proprietary information and trade secrets” about their logistic systems.

They filed a lawsuit against Zoox and 4 former logistics employees who went to the startup:

“This dispute arises out of the concerted efforts of Zoox, Inc. (“Zoox”), a competitor to Tesla, Inc. (“Tesla”), and several now-former Tesla employees, to steal Tesla’s proprietary information and trade secrets to help Zoox leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations. As they departed Tesla, these employees, including Defendants Scott Turner (“Turner”), Sydney Cooper (“Cooper”), Christian Dement (“Dement”), and Craig Emigh (“Emigh”), absconded with select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer, and at least one of them used Tesla’s confidential information to target other Tesla employees for hiring by Zoox. In the process, they misappropriated Tesla’s trade secrets, violated their agreements with Tesla, and breached their duties of loyalty, all with the knowledge and support of Zoox.”

Tesla describes some very compelling evidence that it was a concerted effort to steal IP in the lawsuit:

“For example, just before departing Tesla for Zoox, Defendant Turner – a manager in Tesla’s Newark, California Regional DistributionCenter – emailed two confidential Tesla documents to his personal email address, with only the words “you sly dog you…” in the body of the email. Similarly, shortly before his own departure from Tesla, Defendant Dement – a former warehouse supervisor – sent four confidential Tesla documents to his personal email account, with the subject line “Good Stuff.” 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.”

That said, they didn’t release the actual evidence beyond those descriptions.

Tesla also says that the employees have stolen information from its proprietary enterprise system WARP, which was developed by Tesla’s former longtime Chief Information Officer Jay Vijayan.

Here’s the full lawsuit:

View this document on Scribd

Electrek’s Take

Well, now that’s two lawsuits filed by Tesla about stealing trade secrets in a week. We just reported earlier today about Tesla going after another employee for reportedly giving the Autopilot source code to Chinese startup Xpeng.

Not sure what to think about that.

Tesla sounds like it has some solid evidence against those guys that went to Zoox, but the company hasn’t shared that yet.

But I want to hear from both sides before passing judgment here because I think Tesla has misrepresented evidence in the past, like in the case of Sterling Anderson leaving, which they eventually had to settle in that case.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.


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