Alex Khatilov stole important software after being hired at Tesla, for which he was accused by the company.
This is not the first time Tesla has accused employees of stealing its technology, but the latest case can be considered especially audacious, if it is true, Engadget writes.
It has come to light that the electric car maker has sued engineer Alex Khatilov for allegedly stealing the company’s special Warp Drive software (used to automate purchases and other systems) within three days of starting work in late December 2020. Khatilov reportedly copied thousands of files.
Among them are script files related to Warp Drive that were included in his personal Dropbox account.
The company also accused Khatilov of trying to cover up his actions. He reportedly lied about handing over personal documents after investigators questioned him, and claimed he “forgot” about the files when he gave investigators access to his Dropbox space. According to Tesla, the engineer even tried to delete the Dropbox app and other files early in the interview.
Tesla did not say whether it believed Khatilov had cooperated with others. However, the company warned that it had “not disclosed” all of Khatilov’s actions and that he could still share Tesla files. The employee had to work remotely because of the pandemic, making it difficult to verify that the files had been deleted.
In the past, the automaker has defended its technology rigorously, suing Rivian and Zoox for allegedly hiring recruits who took Tesla secrets with them when they left.
And that’s on top of the lawsuits against Martin Tripp, whom Elon Musk called a “saboteur.” Khatilov’s case, if true, can only heighten Tesla’s concerns about trade secret theft-if people are hired only to steal automation tools, Tesla may find it justified to zealously protect its crucial electric cars and self-management technology.
The past year has made it clear that the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered. The year 2020 saw explosive growth in the electric vehicle segment of the auto industry, and nearly every major manufacturer or brand group announced, introduced or announced new and future electric vehicles.