Tesla is currently involved in a legal battle against former employees who joined Rivian, a rival automaker. Tesla’s lawsuit alleges that these employees violated non-disclosure agreements by disclosing trade secrets.
In an attempt to have the case dismissed, the former Tesla and current Rivian employees requested a summary adjudication ruling. This request was tentatively denied by a State Court judge on Wednesday, which means that Tesla’s lawsuit will proceed to trial.
Simultaneously, the judge also approved the employees’ plea to settle another accusation from Tesla. According to Tesla, the workers unlawfully accessed the company’s computer systems to duplicate and take data. Should this decision be finalized, it would permit the breach of contract matter to move forward to trial alongside the primary allegation.
The trade secret theft case is officially called Tesla Inc. v. Rivian Automotive Inc., 20CV368472, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County (San Jose).
Tesla filed the lawsuit in July 2020, accusing Rivian of poaching employees and misappropriating confidential information. Rivian had allegedly hired over 70 former Tesla employees, some of whom were caught stealing technology and battery-related information.
Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, expressed his disapproval of these actions, stating that Rivian was “doing bad things” and that “stealing our [Tesla’s] intellectual property is not cool.” The trial faced a delay in December 2021, with the judge ordering Tesla to produce relevant documents within 30 days.
Rivian is denying any wrongdoing and is claiming that Tesla is merely attempting to hinder competitors in the electric vehicle sector. Between March 2022 and March 2023, Rivian’s year-over-year revenue grew by more than 1,000%.
In spite of the legal battle, Rivian is still planning to join Tesla’s NACS charging network. Rivian announced that it was joining NACS back in June.