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Tesla Sues Software Engineer for Trade Secret Theft

He allegedly started stealing information almost immediately after starting his job.

Tesla has become one of the most high-profile companies in the world thanks to its groundbreaking vehicle technology — along with its knack for grabbing headlines and a, shall we say, eccentric CEO.

But it’s become clear that all that notoriety has also put a pretty sizable target on its back. The company was recently the subject of an unsuccessful ransomware scheme, and Tesla has fought for years against former employees that, it alleges, stole proprietary information before departing for rival firms. 

A complaint filed Friday in federal court in California will add another case to the latter list.

CNBC reports that Tesla sued a former software engineer named Alex Khatilov over trade secret theft and breach of contract.

According to the complaint, Khatilov began working at Tesla on Dec. 28, and “almost immediately” began uploading files and programming scripts into his Dropbox account. When confronted about it just over a week later, Tesla says he may have deleted evidence.

Khatilov was one of about 40 employees in Tesla’s Quality Assurance team, which developed the code behind WARP Drive — software designed to automate manufacturing and sales processes, particularly those related to environment, health and safety. 

The former Tesla engineer told the New York Post that he attempted to back up a folder on his computer but instead moved it to Dropbox by mistake.

Tesla is seeking to ban him from transmitting the information, as well as damages and attorney fees.

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