Former Tesla employee accused of stealing self-driving tech to benefit Chinese rival

Former Tesla employeeUPDATED: 2019/03/22 12:00 PM

An intellectual property suit was filed Thursday against a former Tesla employee, Guangzhi Cao, accusing him of stealing Tesla tech and turning over to chinese competitors — a Chinese electric vehicle startup, by the name of Xiaopeng Motors.

Elon Musk’s company is seeking damages and to stop Cao from using the information.

As filed in a California US District Court, Tesla (TSLA) accuses Cao of allegedly uploading complete copies of the company’s self-driving source code to his personal Apple (AAPL) iCloud account — taking more than 300,000 files.

Later, after accepting a job with Xiaopeng, Cao then deleted 120,000 files from his work computer and disconnected his iCloud account from it, the complaint says. He then repeatedly logged into Tesla’s networks and cleared his browser history before leaving Tesla in early January.

Cao is now employed at  XMotors, Xiaopeng’s US subsidiary.

As mentioned in a statement released by Xiaopeng, the company has started an internal investigation, but is unaware of any alleged misconduct by Cao, adding that it did not request any “misappropriate[d] trade secrets, confidential and proprietary information of Tesla.”

“XMotors fully respects any third-party’s intellectual property rights and confidential information,” the Tesla competitor said.

Cao could not immediately be reached for comment.