Tesla, Rivian Head to Court in NDA Battle
Written by Joey Klender, Teslarati
Published Aug. 2, 2023
Tesla is heading to court against former employees who joined rival automaker Rivian in a lawsuit claiming they breached non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) related to trade secrets.
On Aug. 2, the former Tesla and now Rivian employees attempted to have the suit thrown out via a summary adjudication ruling. However, a state court judge tentatively denied their request, so the lawsuit will be going forward.
The judge did grant the employees’ request for a ruling on Tesla's claim they accessed company computers illegally to copy and steal important data, according to Bloomberg.
If that ruling is approved, it would allow the breach of contract issue and the claim Tesla made against Rivian that it violated California’s trade secret laws to head to a trial.
Tesla opened the lawsuit in late July 2020, stating it had seen an “alarming pattern” of poaching employees and taking secrets.
Tesla stated in the complaint, “Misappropriating Tesla’s competitively useful confidential information when leaving Tesla for a new employer is obviously wrong and risky.”
It also claimed Rivian had hired at least 70 former employees, some of whom were “caught red-handed” stealing information related to technology and next-gen batteries.
Additionally, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in an interview in 2020 that Rivian was “doing bad things, so we sued them.”
“It’s not cool to steal our IP, and for people to violate their confidentiality agreements,” Musk added.
The trial had stagnated to an extent in December 2021, when Judge Peter Manoukian said Tesla had 30 days to produce documents relevant to the suit.
The case has moved forward with these latest developments, although Rivian has denied any wrongdoing and claims the suit is Tesla’s attempt to derail competitors in the EV sector.