Tesla Motors, the world's biggest electric vehicle manufacturer, sued a former engineer claiming he illegally transferred confidential information on its supercomputer technology to his own computer and turned over a “dummy” laptop for inspection to cover up the theft.
The company is developing an in-house supercomputer, dubbed Project Dojo, to deal with massive amounts of data, including video from Tesla cars, and using it to create autonomous driving software. Alexander Yatskov was hired in January as a thermal engineer to help design cooling systems for the computer, which generates a lot of heat, Tesla said in the complaint.
“These thermal designs and data are confidential and tightly guarded within Tesla,” the carmaker said.
But Tesla said Mr Yatskov admitted to downloading confidential information from his Tesla devices to his personal devices, after he was confronted. He turned over a “dummy” computer for inspection by Tesla to try and cover his tracks, the company said.
Mr Yatskov quit on May 2 and has refused to return the information, Tesla said in the complaint.
When reached by phone, Mr Yatskov said he wasn’t aware of the complaint and declined to immediately comment on it.
Tesla also accused Mr Yatskov of lying in his resume about his expertise and work experience. He also breached a non-disclosure agreement that barred him from disclosing trade secrets, Tesla said.
“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,” Tesla said in its complaint.
Tesla is seeking compensatory and exemplary damages and an order that would stop Mr Yatskov from disseminating its trade secrets and direct him to return all proprietary data.