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Tesla sues EV startup Rivian over alleged trade secrets theft

Tesla last week filed a lawsuit against Rivian over allegations the EV startup made efforts to gather confidential information from Tesla by recruiting former Tesla staff and encouraging them to take such information prior to leaving their job.

In its lawsuit, filed on July 17 in a court in San Jose, California, Tesla alleged there was an “alarming pattern” of this happening and named four individuals allegedly involved. Tesla also said it knew of additional cases.

According to the lawsuit, Rivian has 178 staff that previously worked at Tesla, of which 70 joined Rivian directly from Tesla. That’s a significant portion of Rivian’s staff considering the company had about 1,000 employees in mid-2019.

In a statement to Bloomberg published Thursday, Rivian denied the allegations and said it requires all new employees to confirm “that they have not, and will not, introduce former employers’ intellectual property into Rivian systems.” Rivian also said the allegations were “baseless.”

Rivian R1T

Rivian R1T

Rivian unveiled the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show and plans to put the vehicles into production in 2021. The company is the closest to being a rival to Tesla compared to the rest of the EV startup field, having managed to secure over $6 billion in funding since its founding in 2009, as well as supply deals for major firms including Ford and Amazon.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has sued parties for allegedly stealing trade secrets. Two previous cases involved former employees that joined Chinese EV startup Xpeng and self-driving startup Zoox. The latter was acquired in June by Amazon, a major investor of Rivian.

In other Tesla news, Chris Porritt, who left a top engineering role at Aston Martin to join Tesla in 2013 and has also worked at Apple, has joined Croatian EV startup and supplier Rimac as its new chief technology officer. He will report directly to Rimac CEO and founder Mate Rimac, with his first task to get the company’s C_Two hypercar into production.

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