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Tesla settles case with employee accused of passing secrets to Chinese startup



Tesla has decided to settle a lawsuit against a former employee accused of copying the programming code of the electric car maker’s automated driving Device Technology, and passing it on to a Chinese startup, according to a US District Court.


Tesla had filed the lawsuit in 2019, saying its former employee, Cao Guangji, who worked at Tesla for two years, copied the programming before moving in January 2019 to rival XMotors, the American subsidiary of Xpeng Inc, a Chinese self-driving car startup.


Details of the settlement, which included a cash payment that Kao made to Tesla, were not disclosed. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.


Tesla’s automated driving system is the driver assistance system, which displays driving tasks and allows drivers to get their hands off the wheel, although the company still maintains that this requires driver supervision, and does not make the car autonomous.


Tesla has a factory in Shanghai, putting it in direct competition with XPENG and other Chinese startups in the world’s largest electric vehicle market.


A representative of Kao confirmed via a statement to Reuters that Kao never did, did not access any Tesla data after he left Tesla, or provided any information to X motors or anyone else.


The company told Reuters that Kao later left X motors, and X motors, in a statement earlier this week, said that X motors was not a party to the case, that it respects intellectual property rights, and relies on them to develop its own intellectual property, research and development internally.


The field of electric vehicles-both cars and aircraft – has become highly competitive and an area of mutual espionage and corporate litigation. This is taking place against the backdrop of a great rivalry between the United States and China for technological dominance in this field, and attempts by Europe to catch up with the two giants, especially in the field of developing electric batteries.

In early April, the New York Times reported that Wisk aero, a startup developing an electric aircraft that takes off as a vertical hovercraft and then flies like an airplane, had filed a lawsuit against another startup, Archer aviation, accusing it of stealing trade secrets and violating Wisk’s patents.


Wisc alleges in its lawsuit that the intellectual property, promoted by Archer, was stolen from engineers the company had hired from Wisc.


The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses engineers of downloading thousands of files containing classified designs and data before leaving Wisc to join Archer. Wiske accused a third engineer of erasing the history of his activities from the computer before leaving for Archer.


Recall that companies such as Tesla and Panasonic, LG, and Kim Pi Wi de China CVC Kiev infusion, and its headquarters almost all in China, Japan, or South Korea, dominate the manufacture of batteries needed in electric vehicles; however, there are also many new players who enter the game down. And investors, feeling huge profits at stake, are throwing money at startups they believe are about to make breakthroughs.



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