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Tesla sues Rivian for poaching employees and stealing trade secrets

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Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, Case No. 20CV368472 — Tesla Inc. (TSLA) has sued Rivian Automotive who is the 2nd American pure electric vehicle startup ever, Tesla alleges that Rivian is poaching its employees and through the current and former workers the competitor is trying to obtain Tesla’s trade secrets and vital information related to its engineering and software breakthroughs (full lawsuit PDF below).

Besides Rivian, Tesla has included the following current and former employees in the lawsuit:

  • Tami Pascale – currently Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition at Rivian — formerly held the same position at Tesla for more than 4 years and just left the company this month according to her LinkedIn profile.
  • Kim Wong – her LinkedIn profile still shows her job as Field Recruiter at Tesla but she’s included in the lawsuit.
  • Jessica Siron – her LinkedIn profile is now inaccessible but data shows that she’s now currently working as Director of Environmental, Health & Safety at Rivian, also a former Tesla employee of a similar department.
  • Carrington Bradley – his current position is Senior Manager, Charging Deployment at Rivian and he left a comparable role at Tesla earlier in March.

Tesla argues that these employees (defendants) have breached their contract and NDA with the company and are involved in helping Rivian in acquiring Tesla’s trade secrets and proprietary information. In addition to the above, Tesla suspects another 1-20 unidentified employees that might be embroiled in passing on valuable information to their new employer, according to Tesla, the investigation on this matter is still ongoing.

In the allegations, Tesla admits that if Rivian had done the recruiting fairly, the automaker would’ve respected the move but Tesla argues Rivian’s actions as ‘unfair’ in the case filing as:

Tesla has recently discovered, however, an alarming pattern among Tesla employees recently leaving to join Rivian. As Tesla now knows, Rivian instructed one recently departing Tesla employee about the types 0f Tesla confidential information that Rivian needs. Both Rivian and the employee knew full well that taking such information would Violate the employee’s non-disclosure obligations to Tesla. Nonetheless, the employee expropriated for Rivian the exact information Rivian sought—highly sensitive, trade secret information that would give Rivian a huge competitive advantage.

Besides being an EV manufacturer, Rivian’s R1T Pickup Truck is a direct competitor of the Tesla Cybertruck — and through several rounds of investments from the likes of Amazon, Ford, and COX Automotive, Rivian has been able to expand from 100 to 1000 employees within a 1 year period, several of them seem to have come from Tesla, which is now an electric vehicle production giant with presence in multiple continents.

Tesla takes their trade secrets and software code security very seriously, just a few months ago Tesla sued the Chinese EV startup Xpeng Motors for allegedly acquiring Tesla Autopilot code through a former Tesla software engineer Cao Guangzhi — Tesla is currently pushing Xpeng Motors to show their self-driving source code to verify if it is stolen or not.

Interestingly, Rivian has just tweeted a photo of the company’s production line at the manufacturing plant in Normal, IL and emphasized that the R1T deliveries will begin June 2021, not to forget Rivian also plans to release their own version of the self-driving software in the future, so there might be a re-occurance of an Xpeng type case in further investigations.

With the vast amount of resources at hand, Tesla is likely to go to any possible limits to get the truth out and get this sorted, we will be closely following the developments so stay tuned.

Tesla vs. Rivian Lawsuit PDF

Courtesy of Whole Mars Blog

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By Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on XAutoWorld.com, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere.

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