Tesla takes a dig at Rivian and 4 former employees for alleged trade secret theft
EV giant Tesla has filed a lawsuit against its potential competitor Rivian (also an EV automaker) and four of its former employees. Tesla claims that Rivian stole its trade secrets and also accused the start-up for robbing talent from their company.
The lawsuit has been filed in California Superior Court in Santa Clara and it was reported first by Bloomberg. In the filed lawsuit, Tesla claims that Rivian has been employing the staff of Tesla and make them collect confidential information as they leave. Tesla in its lawsuit also claimed that it has realized a pattern among the employees who recently left the company to join EV start-up Rivian.
In the complaint it is written that: “As Tesla now knows, Rivian instructed one recently departing Tesla employee about the types of Tesla confidential information that Rivian needs. Both Rivan and the employee knew full well that taking such information would violate the employee’s non-disclosure obligation to Tesla. Nonetheless, the employee expropriated for Rivian the exact information Rivian sought — highly sensitive, trade secret information that would give Rivian a huge competitive advantage”
Tesla has also named 4 of its former employees in the lawsuit and said that it is still investigating. Tesla also said that it has identified two more former employees who left Tesla to join Rivian and claims they have most probably embezzled Tesla’s trade secrets, confidential and private information.
The identified secrets mentioned in the complaint includes different hiring and recruitment practices and papers related to searching and recruiting talent like applicant lists and salary slabs. Other stolen documents are associated with the project management techniques and information. According to Tesla, Rivian has employed 178 former Tesla employees and 70 of those employees joined the company directly.
Rivian responded to Tesla’s claims and called the claims baseless in a statement to TechCrunch. A spokes-person from Rivian said that “We admire Tesla for its leadership in resetting expectations of what an electric car can be.” The spokes-person also added that “Upon joining Rivian, we require all employees to confirm that they have not, and will not, introduce former employers’ intellectual property into Rivian systems.” According the Rivian’s spokes-person the allegations are completely baseless and it is beyond their culture, ethos and corporate policies.
Rivian is not the first company to be sued over allegations of stealing of trade secrets. In 2017, Tesla had filed a lawsuit against AV startup Aurora which was withdrawn altogether and there have been few cases where the suit ended in settlements and understandings. Some lawsuit filed are still being fought in court like the lawsuit filed against Xpeng Motors.
Recently in April 2020, Tesla settled a lawsuit which was filed against Zoox.
Rivian has been into existence now for almost a decade and it silently operated until late 2018, when RJ Scaringe, founder and CEO of Rivian unveiled 2 vehicles at the LA Auto show. For the last 18 months Rivian has scaled its operations to great extent and has been hiring people in large number.
Since the time Rivian has scaled its operations, it has become favorites of different enterprises. The company recently raised $2.5 Billion in funding and aims to be the first company to introduce EV pickup trucks in market.
Rivian is also backed by high profile companies which includes Amazon and Ford. Amazon itself has given an order of one million electric vans to Rivian .
The EV startup is setting up its assembly plant in Normal, Illinois where it will assemble its electric pickup truck R1Tand its sports utility vehicle R1S. Rivian also plans to fulfil Amazons order of one million electric vans through this plant. Company expects that all of these products will come to market by 2021.