Tesla Accuses Former Employees and Start-Up Zoox of Stealing Trade Secrets In Lawsuit

March 21, 2019, 3:28 PM UTC

Tesla is suing four former employees and the self-driving startup Zoox. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. district court for Northern California, Tesla accused the former employees—who now work at Zoox—of stealing the company’s trade secrets.

The Silicon Valley automaker in the lawsuit accused defendants Scott Turner, Sydney Cooper, Christian Dement, and Craigh Emigh of stealing “proprietary 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.”

Zoox did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

The former employees previously worked in warehouse and distribution center management at Tesla’s regional Parts Distribution Centers (PDC) in Newark, Calif., and Bethlehem, Penn.

“The theft here was blatant and intentional,” Tesla wrote in the filing. “In the process, they misappropriated Tesla’s trade secrets, violated their agreements with Tesla, and breached their duties of loyalty, all with the knowledge and support of Zoox.”

Each of the former employees signed non-disclosure agreements to keep Tesla information confidential and to avoid poaching Tesla employees within one year of departing from the company, the filing states.

More than 100 former Tesla employees now work for the start-up Zoox, Business Insider reports.

Two of the defendants, Turner and Emigh, are accused of emailing confidential and proprietary Tesla documents to themselves. In his email, Turner allegedly wrote, “you sly dog you.”

Dement, likewise, is accused of sending four confidential and proprietary Tesla documents to his personal email account and was allegedly being recruited for a job at Zoox by Turner. Tesla says Cooper sent two confidential and proprietary Tesla documents to Turner, who was allegedly actively recruiting her to move over to Zoox, as well.

“While Tesla respects that employees may decide to pursue other employment opportunities, it must take action when current and former employees abuse their positions of trust and blatantly violate their legal and contractual obligations to Tesla,” the company wrote in the filing.

Tesla declined to comment for this story.