Tesla Sues Ex-Engineer for Stealing Data on Supercomputer Technology

According to Automotive News, Tesla has filed a lawsuit against Alexander Yatskov, a former employee, for allegedly stealing confidential information on the company’s supercomputer technology by illegally transferring data to his own computer and turning in a “dummy” laptop for inspection to cover up the theft.

Tesla has been developing its own supercomputer technology, dubbed “Project Dojo,” in-house to crunch the massive amounts of data, mainly consisting of video from the company’s electric vehicles (EVs), that need to be processed in order to help improve Tesla’s autonomous driving software, Full Self-Driving.

During its AI Day event last year, Tesla unveiled the D1 chip, which the company said powers the world’s “fastest AI training computer” and is the first processor produced as part of Project Dojo.

Tesla hired Yatskov in January as a thermal engineer to help design cooling systems for its supercomputers, which generate a lot of heat, Tesla said in its complaint.

“These thermal designs and data are confidential and tightly guarded within Tesla,” the company said.

Tesla also said that when he was confronted, Yatskov admitted to transferring confidential information from his company-issued devices to his personal devices. The ex-Tesla engineer turned over a “dummy” computer for Tesla to inspect in an attempt to cover his tracks.

According to the filing, Yatskov quit on May 2 and has since refused to return the information to Tesla.

On top of stealing Tesla’s intellectual property, the complaint also alleges that Yatskov lied on his resume and breached a non-disclosure agreement binding him to refrain from disclosing trade secrets.

“This is a case about illicit retention of trade secrets by an employee who, in his short time at Tesla, already demonstrated a track record of lying and then lying again by providing a ‘dummy’ device to try and cover his tracks,” reads the complaint.

Tesla is seeking compensatory and exemplary damages from Yatskov, as well as a court order mandating that the former employee return all of the company’s proprietary data and refrain from further revealing any trade secrets.

Tesla in October of last year published a detailed whitepaper on Project Dojo, which an industry expert has labelled as a “magnitude advantage” over competitors for the EV pioneer.