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Tesla sues former employee over stealing confidential data

Electric-car maker Tesla Inc. sued a former employee over allegedly stealing confidential company information.

The lawsuit, filed March 21, alleges that Guangzhi Cao, a former engineer on Tesla's Autopilot team, uploaded complete copies of Tesla's Autopilot-related source code — more than 300,000 files and directories — to his personal iCloud storage account before "abruptly" leaving the company Jan. 3.

According to the suit, Tesla prohibits employees from storing confidential Tesla information on unsecured systems, such as iCloud, Google Drive or DropBox. The lawsuit also alleges that Cao violated Tesla's policies and his agreements with Tesla.

In addition, Tesla accused Cao of not returning "highly confidential information" before joining Xiaopeng Motors Technology Co., also known as XMotors, a company pursuing self-driving and electric vehicle technology.

The company believes that the former Tesla engineer can still access and use all the source code needed to replicate Tesla's proprietary Autopilot technology.

In the lawsuit, Tesla stated that its confidential information is not safe in the hands of XMotors or its employees. Tesla is seeking to recover and protect its confidential information.

Separately, Bloomberg News reported March 21 that Tesla filed a separate lawsuit March 20 against some of its former employees and self-driving car startup Zoox Inc.

The lawsuit claims that former Tesla employees who worked in parts distribution centers allegedly stole information and trade secrets to help Zoox "leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations."

In 2018, Tesla sued former employee Martin Tripp over hacking the company's trade secrets and transferring large amounts of data to third parties.