Tesla sues engineer, says he stole secrets days after joining the company

26 Janvier, 2021, 16:58 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Tesla has accused an engineer of downloading about 26,000 sensitive files in his first week

Alex Khatilov was sacked at once after internal investigations revealed that he transferred a huge amount of Tesla files. It was said that the man was newly-hired and has been working for Elon Musk's company for mere two weeks, but he had already downloaded around 26,000 confidential files. According to Tesla, they detected Khatilov's downloads on January 6.

A former Tesla Inc. software engineer was ordered to appear before a judge to face allegations that three days into his job, he started stealing confidential files and transferring them to a personal storage account.

Tesla said in a complaint filed on January 22 in the San Jose Division of the U.S. district court of the Northern District of California that in just three days after he was hired, Khaitov stole thousands of trade secret computer scripts.

Khatilov was surprised and also upset by Tesla's lawsuit. He said in an interview that after he was hired on December 28, Tesla sent him a file containing information for new hires.

A software automation engineer, Khatilov was hired as one of a "select few Tesla employees" to have access to the files, which the company says were unrelated to his job. Khatilov was sacked when internal investigators discovered the file transfers, according to Tesla.

Tesla is suing Khatilov for Violation of the Defend Trade SecretsAct, Violation of the California UniformTrade Secrets Act, and finally, Breach of Contrac for not adhering to the NDA he signed to protect Tesla's trade secret during accepting his employment. Last April, Zoox settled with Tesla for an undisclosed sum and admitted that "certain of its new hires from Tesla" were in possession of internal Tesla documents.

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In a federal lawsuit, the electric-car maker cast Alex Khatilov as a "willful and malicious" thief who moved some 26,000 highly sensitive company files to his personal Dropbox account "with the deliberate intent to injure Tesla's business".

Information security personnel working for Tesla learned of the incident on January 6, 2020, and proceeded to interview the defendant. He said that he had transferred it into his Dropbox of clod account to use it later on his personal computer. An interview request sent by Insider to Khatilov's personal email address was not immediately returned on Saturday.

The company said Khatilov told company investigators he forgot about the files, adding that was "almost certainly another lie".

Tesla said during this call, Khatilov delayed sharing his screen with the team, during which time "he could be seen on videochat hurriedly deleting information from his computer". "And Tesla would have had no way to know that".

When investigators asked to see his Dropbox account, Khatilov reportedly gave them access and the company found "thousands and thousands of Tesla's confidential computer scripts". Tesla is now seeking a jury trial and payment for damages.

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