US electric car manufacturer company Tesla on January 23 sued a former employee for allegedly stealing 26,000 confidential files, just three days into the employment. Software engineer Alex Khatilov was accused of trade secret theft and breach of contract and the Elon Musk owned firm filed the case against the former employee, slapping charges of trade theft. According to the court filing, Khatilov discreetly transferred the data used by the company’s backend software system, WARP drive to his own personal Dropbox. CNBC reported, that the ex-employee also deleted the evidence of breach when the firm’s security teams approached him.
The accused was hired by Tesla’s Quality Assurance team, and he programmed the software used in the Environment, Health, and Safety division. He joined the car manufacturing firm on December 28, 2020. In a breach of the company’s code of conduct, the ex-Tesla worker had started to upload the confidential files in a programming language called Python to his own cloud storage and was reportedly caught on January 6 by Tesla. The codes in the trade computer scripts were of great concern to Tesla as the company took several years to build them and the company alleged that it was the roadmap to copy Tesla’s innovation. Some confidential files were 200 years of work, Tesla stated, adding that the firm then decided to sue the employee.
In a statement to NYPost, Khatilov alleged that Tesla’s confidential and integral software ended up in his Dropbox by mistake when he was creating a backup of a folder on his computer. He dismissed the allegations saying that the data had unintentionally copied into his cloud storage and he was unaware of it the whole time. Earlier, Tesla had sued former employees Rivian and Zoox, over alleged theft of intellectual property, and employee Martin Tripp for more than $167 million in damage for withholding relevant info from shareholders. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had labelled Tripp as a “saboteur” in official company e-mails as the firm alleged that the ex-employee had illegally exported data and made false claims to reporters in several press interviews.