Tesla this week filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara against a former Tesla employee, accusing him of stealing secrets and attempting to recruit other Tesla staffers, all while he remained an employee with the company.
“This dispute arises out of the efforts of Sterling Anderson, a former non-technical program manager of Tesla’s Autopilot team, to violate his contractual and other obligations to Tesla by attempting to recruit at least a dozen Tesla engineers, taking Tesla’s confidential and proprietary information, and doctoring and destroying evidence in an effort to cover his tracks —all for the benefit of a competing venture he launched while still a Tesla employee,” the suit, filed on Thursday, says.
Tesla said software such as Autopilot, when developed by competitors and sold to interested parties, regularly sells for more than $1 billion. The company believes Anderson and at least one other cohort downloaded and ultimately stole “hundreds of gigabytes of data” related to Autopilot to build and sell their own version of the software.
“Anderson collaborated with Urmson on their 25 competing venture on Tesla time, using his Tesla company laptop, and on Tesla’s premises,” Tesla said in the suit. “On 26 January 4, 2017, Anderson took his Tesla laptop to Urmson’s home, accessed a document entitled 27 “Recruiting targets” and continued to proceed with their Tesla solicitations.” Tesla said Anderson then tried to hide is tracks on the company laptop to make it look like he hadn’t stolen anything.
Innocent until proven guilty
Tesla is seeking damages, though didn’t specify how much, and has demanded a jury trial for the case. Remember: all parties are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, so Anderson and Urmson will get to tell their side of the story, too.