Tesla says its upstart competitor Rivian and its employees stole confidential trade secrets (TSLA)

  • Rivian coached employees into sharing trade secrets from their time at Tesla, according to a new lawsuit. 
  • Tesla says at least six former employees, and probably more, divulged confidential information in their new jobs at the competitor. 
  • Rivian denies the accusations, saying the alleged actions are “counter to Rivian’s culture, ethos and corporate policies.”
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Tesla has accused the upstart electric vehicle firm Rivian of stealing highly confidential trade secrets through newly hired workers.

In a lawsuit filed last week in California, Elon Musk’s electric automaker accused the Amazon-backed startup and four of its employees of misappropriating the trade secrets that violate the former employees’ non-disclosure agreements.

“Rivian instructed one recently departing Tesla employee about the types of Tesla confidential information that Rivian needs,” Tesla’s complaint alleges. “Both Rivian and the employee knew full well that taking such information would violate the employee’s non-disclosure obligations to Tesla. Nonetheless, the employee expropriated for Rivian the exact information Rivian sought — highly sensitive, trade secret information that would give Rivian huge competitive advantage.”

Tesla says it caught the culprits “using recently acquired sophisticated electronic security monitoring tools,” and that it expects more employees to be named in the suit as it discovers more instances of theft. In total, Tesla says 178 former employees have joined Rivian.

Rivian and the four specific employees named in the suit did not immediately return requests for comment on the allegations. In a statement to Bloomberg, the company said the alleged actions are “counter to Rivian’s culture, ethos and corporate policies.”

According to Bloomberg, Tesla has previously filed lawsuits against China’s Xpeng Motors and self-driving car startup Zoox, which recently struck a deal to be acquired by Amazon.

Earlier this month, Rivian closed another major funding round of $2.5 billion from backers including Amazon, which plans to eventually use its vehicles in its delivery fleet. To date, the company — which has yet to launch a production vehicle — has raised $6 billion with no valuation attached.

Read Tesla’s full complaint:

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