Tesla sues EV startup Rivian for stealing trade secrets

Tesla says the electric car startup told departing employees to steal confidential information.

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Karissa Bell
July 23rd, 2020
People walk past facade with logo at Tesla Motors store on Santana Row in the Silicon Valley, San Jose, California, December 14, 2019. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

Tesla is suing electric car marker Rivian for stealing trade secrets and employees. 

In court documents filed this week and published by Electrek, Tesla alleges Rivian recruited its employees with the goal of stealing Tesla trade secrets. In the suit, Tesla acknowledges that simply recruiting Tesla workers to the rival startup would be “legitimate competitive conduct,” but says the company has seen “an alarming pattern” among those who have recently left the company for the electric car startup.

“Rivian instructed one recently departing Tesla employee about the types of Tesla confidential information that Rivian needs,” Tesla claims in the lawsuit. The company says it discovered three other employees taking “highly valuable, confidential information as they left for Rivian.” The suit also notes that more than a dozen of Rivian’s recruiters are former Tesla employees and “thus familiar with the types of information to which Tesla employees have access.” 

In a statement, a Rivian spokesperson called Tesla’s claims “baseless.”

“We admire Tesla for its leadership in resetting expectations of what an electric car can be,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Engadget. “Rivian is made up of high-performing, mission-driven teams, and our business model and technology are based on many years of engineering, design and strategy development. This requires the contribution and know-how of thousands of employees from across the technology and automotive spaces. Upon joining Rivian, we require all employees to confirm that they have not, and will not, introduce former employers' intellectual property into Rivian systems. This suit’s allegations are baseless and run counter to Rivian's culture, ethos and corporate policies.”

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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