Tesla has initiated a lawsuit against a software engineer, claiming he stole trade secrets just days after joining the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer.
Alex Khatilov stole over 6,000 scripts, or files of code, that automate a number of business functions, Bloomberg reported, citing a complaint filed by Tesla. Khatilov transferred the confidential files to his personal Dropbox cloud storage account, the report said.
Khatilov was fired after the incident and his two-week stint at the automaker ended January 6.
US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on January 22 issued a restraining order, asking Khatilov to immediately preserve and return all the files and appear before her remotely on February 4.
Tesla alleges that Khatilov lied about the theft and attempted to delete evidence, Bloomberg reported. However, Khatilov claims he showed the company the information in his Dropbox account and deleted it at their request.
"The scripts are extremely valuable to Tesla, and they would be to a competitor," the company was quoted as saying by the news service.
"Access to these scripts would enable engineers at other companies to reverse engineer Tesla’s processes to create a similar system in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the expense," the company said.
Khatilov said when he joined Tesla on December 28, he received a document that had information for new employees, which he transferred to his Dropbox account so that he could access it on his personal computer.
"Nobody told me using Dropbox is prohibited," Khatilov was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
"I don't know why they claim it's sensitive information, I didn't have access to any sensitive information," he added.Khatilov said he had not shared the files with anyone or sent them anywhere.