Tesla has filed a lawsuit against its former employee Alexander Yatskov for allegedly stealing “confidential and tightly guarded” information related to the company’s supercomputer technology. This supercomputer is called the Project Dojo. Dojo is Tesla’s neural net training computer that processes large amounts of data used to train the AI software in Tesla’s self-driving cars. According to a Bloomberg report, Tesla accuses its former employee Yatskov of downloading confidential information to his personal devices and has since refused to give it back.
Tesla claims Yatskov lied about his work history and skillset on his resume. The company claims the former employee who started working as a thermal engineer with the electric vehicle maker in January contributed to the design of Project Dojo’s cooling systems. Yatskov had access to Dojo’s cooling information, as well as other confidential information associated with the project. Tesla also claims to have observed Yatskov transmit this confidential information from his email address to his business email address.
The electric vehicle company also accuses Yatskov of violating terms stated in a signed-in non-disclosure that prevents former employees from disclosing or storing information about Dojo. As noted in the complaint, Tesla stated that Yatskov admitted to storing sensitive and classified information belonging to the company on his personal devices after a confrontation about the situation. As a result, Yatskov was placed on a compulsory administrative leave which commenced on April 6th. The company also requested that Yatskov turn in his devices for the stolen information to be retrieved. In an attempt to conceal evidence linking him to the act, Yatskov provided Tesla with a “dummy” laptop. This purported decoy contained none of the information in question, and was made to “look like it may have accessed only inoffensive Tesla information, like an offer letter.” Yatskov eventually resigned from his position at Tesla on May 2nd, Tesla is now suing Yatskov for compensatory and exemplary damages, as well as a court order for the refund of sensitive materials belonging to the company in Yatskov’s possession.
In a similar incident, last year involving, Tesla and a former software developer for allegedly stealing trade secrets in its internal systems. According to the lawsuit, Alex Khatilov was accused of stealing files from Tesla’s internal Warp Drive software. Further reports, suggested that the accused deleted possible evidence when security officials interrogated him.
In another similar case in the year 2019, Tesla alleged four self-driving company Zoox’s workers of stealing private secrets while working as staff of Tesla. The dispute was brought to a halt after Zoox admitted that “some of its recruits from Tesla” were in possession of some of Tesla’s documents. The electric vehicle company has a pending case against Guangzhi Cao, for suspected theft of sensitive materials from Tesla’s Autopilot technology.