Tesla and Rivian are heading to court over ‘stolen trade secret’ claims

Tesla and Rivian are heading to court over the former claiming the latter stole “trade secrets” through former Tesla employees it hired.

They weren’t able to resolve this out of court; now it looks like it will be heading to trial.

In 2020, Tesla filed a lawsuit against Rivian over allegedly stealing trade secrets by hiring former employees of Tesla and encouraging them to bring documents. Rivian has denied the allegations.

At the time Tesla filed the lawsuit, it wasn’t clear what exact trade secrets Tesla was claiming Rivian had stolen, but we noted that the employees listed in the lawsuits were two recruiters, an EHS manager, and a manager of Tesla’s charging networks.

The automaker claimed that these employees brought “documents consisting of highly sensitive trade secret, confidential, and proprietary engineering information” when they went to work for Rivian.

A year later, Tesla expanded the lawsuit claiming more specifically that Rivian is “stealing the core technology for its next-generation batteries.”

Now a new ruling from a judge is allowing the case to move forward after being first initiated three years ago (via Bloomberg):

A state court judge on Wednesday tentatively denied the employees’ request for a summary adjudication ruling — which would have dismissed Tesla’s claim that they had signed agreements and other contracts that forbade them from stealing proprietary information and disclosing it to competitors. The judge granted the employees’ request for a ruling on another claim by Tesla that the workers illegally accessed the company’s computers to copy and steal data.

Once the ruling is official, it should allow Tesla to move forward with its lawsuit against Rivian and the former employees.

Three years later, the context is interesting since now Tesla and Rivian have since partnered up to help the latter adopt the NACS connector, a standard designed by Tesla.

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