On January 23, Tesla sued former employee Alex Khatilov for stealing 26.000 confidential documents, including trade secrets. THE software engineer transferred the sensitive files to his personal account dropbox. Khatilov allegedly stole archives from the inside network of the automotive industry. These include documents related to Warp Drive software. Warp Drive is a proprietary back-end software system used to automate business processes.
According to the complaint, the former Tesla employee was one of the few employees who had access in the files and started stealing date of the company a few days after its hiring. In particular, CNBC reports the following: "The complaint says that Khatilov started working for Tesla on December 28, 2020 and almost immediately started uploading files and scripts (written in Python) to account on Dropbox. "Tesla sued him for his alleged theft on January 6."
The accused claimed that he "forgot" that he had downloaded the files and could not justify his downloads. In more detail, the complaint states the following: "Tesla's trade secrets are extremely valuable to the company and would be just as valuable to a competitor. Access to scripts would allow other companies' engineers to reverse Tesla's automated processes to build a similar automated system in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost Tesla needed to build it. Third-party engineers could not compose these scripts based on public information, let alone with minimal time and effort. "The scripts will also inform competitors about systems that Tesla believes are important and valuable for automation but also about how to automate them - thus providing a roadmap for copying Tesla's innovation."
Khatilov told New York that he had mistakenly transferred the files to Dropbox. He also stated the following: "I have been working in this field for 20 years and I know what sensitive documents are about and I have never tried to access any of them or steal them. I did not know there were 26.000 files there. "
However, according to Security Affairs, the car industry has a different view, and accuses its former employee of trying to cover up his traces of the theft. In particular, the company claimed that the defendant attempted to destroy the evidence by deleting the Dropbox client and other files at the beginning of the interview, when the investigators were trying to gain remote access to his computer.
In addition, Khatilov said in an interview with the New York Post that he did not know that Tesla had filed a lawsuit against him until the newspaper contacted him.
Tesla has filed other lawsuits in the past to protect privacy data of. In December 2020, the company sued former processing technician Martin Tripp, who admitted to leaking confidential information to a journalist. Also in 2019, Tesla sued the "Zoox" car industry, accusing four of its employees - who had previously worked at Tesla - of stealing confidential documents. The case was settled last April, with Zoox admitting that some of its new hires from Tesla stole Tesla documents. The case of Guangzhi Cao, who is accused by Tesla of stealing files related to Tesla's Autopilot system, is still ongoing.