Tech

Tesla sues Rivian for allegedly stealing secrets, poaching employees

Key Points
  • Tesla is suing electric vehicle start-up Rivian, saying in a filing this week that its rival stole trade secrets and poached employees. 
  • The suit also named four former Tesla employees, Tami Pascale, Kim Wong, Jessica Siron and Carrington Bradley. 
  • Rivian denied the allegations.
  • It's not the first time Tesla has sued a former employee for allegedly stealing information or called out a company for trying to poach employees.
Rivian EV SUV.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Tesla is suing electric vehicle start-up Rivian, saying in a filing this week that its rival stole trade secrets and poached employees. 

"Rivian is knowingly encouraging the misappropriation of Tesla's trade secret, confidential, and proprietary information by Tesla employees that Rivian hires," the company said in a lawsuit. The suit also named four former Tesla employees, Tami Pascale, Kim Wong, Jessica Siron and Carrington Bradley, for allegedly taking confidential information. 

"In about the past week, Tesla has discovered disturbing pattern of employees who are departing for Rivian surreptitiously stealing Tesla trade secret, confidential, and proprietary information — information that is especially useful for startup electric vehicle company. And Rivian encourages those thefts even though Rivian is well aware of Tesla employees' confidentiality obligations," Tesla said in the filing. 

Rivian employs roughly 2,300 people, and Tesla claims 178 of those are former Tesla employees.

"This suit's allegations are baseless and run counter to Rivian's culture, ethos and corporate policies," a Rivian spokesperson told CNBC. "Upon joining Rivian, we require all employees to confirm that they have not, and will not, introduce former employers' intellectual property into Rivian systems.

It's not the first time Tesla has sued a former employee for allegedly stealing information or called out a company for trying to poach employees. Tesla last year accused Zoox, a self-driving car start-up, and several former employees of allegedly stealing company information. Zoox settled with Tesla in April, agreeing to pay an undisclosed amount and undergo an audit. 

Tesla also filed a similar suit in 2017 against a former employee involved with Tesla's automated driving program who had left the company to co-found Aurora, an autonomous driving start-up. Aurora later settled.

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