Tesla Files Lawsuit Against Ex-Employee For Theft of Trade Secrets

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On Friday, January 22, Tesla filed a lawsuit against Alex Khatilov, an ex-employee who worked for the automaker as a software engineer, alleging theft of trade secrets, which also amounts to an instance of breach of contract — reports CNBC.

The official filing alleges that the former employee stole files pertaining to, and part of the code for, WARP Drive — a back-end software tool Tesla developed and currently employs to automate a number of manufacturing and retail processes.

The filing also accuses the defendant of destroying evidence of the theft when approached by Tesla’s security team.

Khatilov became a part of one of Tesla’s Quality Assurance teams on December 28, 2020, to help create software capable of automating business processes and tasks in the Environment, Health, and Safety spaces.

The complaint claims that Khatilov started uploading copies of confidential files and Python scripts to his personal Dropbox account soon after he started working for Tesla.

This is not the first time Tesla has had to deal with trade secret theft, and it isn’t the first time the electric vehicle (EV) pioneer has had to go to court for it either.

In the filing, Tesla stresses the sensitivity of the allegedly stolen information, stating that it could be used by competitors to determine “which systems Tesla believes are important and valuable to automate and how to automate them – providing a roadmap to copy Tesla’s innovation.”

When the New York Post reached out to Khatilov for comment after the filing, the ex-Tesla employee said he didn’t even know Tesla was suing him until he heard from the newspaper.

Khatilov told the NY Post that he had ended up unintentionally uploading the code files in question, which Tesla says took “200 man-years of work” to develop, while he was trying to create a backup of a folder on his computer and accidentally uploaded it to Dropbox.

A copy of the filing can be found here.

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