Three years ago, Tesla sued Rivian, alleging that the rival electric vehicle company was “stealing trade secrets,” as Electrek reported, by hiring several former Tesla employees and encouraging them to bring proprietary documents along with them.
Now, a judge has ruled that the case can proceed.
When Tesla first filed the lawsuit, it named four employees — two recruiters, an environmental health and safety manager, and a manager of Tesla’s charging networks — and said these individuals had brought “documents consisting of highly sensitive trade secret, confidential, and proprietary engineering information” with them to their new jobs at Rivian.
Later, Tesla expanded the lawsuit and clarified that the trade secrets in question were “the core technology for its next-generation batteries.” As Electrek reported, the company also anticipated adding more employees to the lawsuit.
Though the ex-Tesla/current Rivian employees attempted to get a summary adjudication ruling that would have dismissed Tesla’s claim that they had signed contracts forbidding them from stealing information, that attempt was denied by a judge, reported Bloomberg.
Rivian, despite producing an electric pickup truck that has garnered high praise, has struggled financially. The company lost $5.2 billion in 2022 and announced that it would switch its focus to family-friendly SUVs.
The company also entered into a sort of partnership with Tesla this year, installing Tesla’s North American Charging Standard chargers on its vehicles and signing an agreement that allowed the brand’s charging stations to be integrated into Rivian’s navigation system.
Responding to Electrek’s reporting on the lawsuit, many commenters were dubious about the lawsuit’s merits and motivations.
“What’s the point of open sourcing your patents if you’re going to blame employees for stealing technology when they want to jump ship to work for a better forward looking company,” wrote one commenter.
“So the ‘mission’ was never to save the planet via ‘open source’ enabling ……?” wrote another.
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