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Tesla sues former employees for allegedly stealing data, Autopilot source code (reuters.com)
274 points by Element_ 61 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 155 comments



Tesla is suing former employees for stealing its logistics (warehousing, inventory control, etc.) trade secrets.

Tesla has to show that Zoox is using the information the employees allegedly stole. In a nutshell, Tesla would have to show similarities between its logistics processes and Zoox's. (https://www.fenwick.com/FenwickDocuments/Trade_Secrets_Prote... for a good summary)

But given the shitshow that is Tesla's logistics , that's extremely unlikely, as Tesla's logistics processes simply aren't valuable IP. Tesla has displayed a chronic inability to manage their own supply chain, especially during the period the employees were at Tesla. If anything, Zoox used the information allegedly taken from Tesla as an example of what not to do logistically, and trade secrets law doesn't let you sue for that.

EDIT: To clarify: there are 2 lawsuits in the article. One is against an employee for stealing trade secrets, which doesn't require proof that his new employer is using the secrets. That lawsuit doesn't involve Zoox. The other lawsuit is against Zoox and former Tesla employees for using Tesla's trade secrets. I'm only referring to the one against Zoox. It's pretty clear that the secrets were misappropriated, so the real question is whether those secrets are actually being used.


The company claims that Turner, who was a manager at a Tesla distribution center, sent confidential documents containing information about the company’s receiving and inventory procedures, along with “internal schematics and line drawings of the physical layouts of certain Tesla warehouses” to his personal email address with the words “you sly dog you...” Turner allegedly sent another document to his personal email later that same day with a note that said: “Ooooh man... so much time and effort. Loved every second of it though,” according to Tesla.

...

After Emigh joined Zoox, Tesla says he mistakenly sent an email to Cooper’s old Tesla address, with a modified version of a proprietary Tesla document attached. The document was “freshly-emblazoned with the Zoox logo,” Tesla claims, but it still featured hallmarks of the original version, which the automaker says shows “without doubt, that the Defendants are actively using the Tesla information they stole.”

I defer to your legal background, but this seems like extremely poor judgement and that it would make the case harder for Zoox.

[edit: the linked article has changed substantially since I first read it. I quoted the article as it was at the time of my commenting, and it had much more details around the XPeng allegations involving iCloud and similar incidents with Apple/FBI investigations]


It is definitely poor judgement by Zoox. And if Tesla had its act together, Zoox would be totally f'd (assuming the unlikely scenario that China would actually enforce a court judgement against a Chinese company).

The issue though is that Tesla has to show that Zoox is actually using that information in its products or processes. It's possible--even likely--that they'll be able to do so with respect to the Autopilot secrets (I didn't address that in my comment edit: since that was a separate lawsuit from the one against Zoox) but with respect to the logistics secrets there's a snowball's chance in hell that Zoox modeled any of their logistics after Tesla's processes.


That seems, again, extraordinarily glib and unserious. You're asserting without evidence that Tesla had nothing of value in the documents stolen, but all they have to do to prevail is show that any of the trade secrets provided a competetive advantage.

So sure, their logistics are a mess in general, but if they had a great idea for, I dunno, shipping-based rolling warehouse allocation or something, and Zoox got caught doing the same thing, it's game over.


So sure, their logistics are a mess in general, but if they had a great idea for, I dunno, shipping-based rolling warehouse allocation or something, and Zoox got caught doing the same thing, it's game over.

But that's not the world we live in. Tesla posted their lawsuit online, and the details are available all over.

From the Verge, on the Zoox lawsuit:

The employees allegedly made off with information related to what Tesla calls its “WARP” system, a proprietary software platform the company built to collectively manage things like manufacturing, warehousing, inventory, distribution, and transportation. “These materials and knowhow were developed by Tesla over many years, and at great expense,” the company’s lawyers write. (WARP was described by multiple former employees to CNBC last year as “seemingly never complete,” which made it hard to keep track of budgets.)

The company claims that Turner, who was a manager at a Tesla distribution center, sent confidential documents containing information about the company’s receiving and inventory procedures, along with “internal schematics and line drawings of the physical layouts of certain Tesla warehouses” to his personal email address with the words “you sly dog you...” Turner allegedly sent another document to his personal email later that same day with a note that said: “Ooooh man... so much time and effort. Loved every second of it though,” according to Tesla.

Zoox hasn't started building anything yet. It's still in the prototype stage. It's possible that Zoox would have used this information if it got to the point of actually building a car (but see Faraday Future for an example of optimistic thinking). But Tesla would need to show that Zoox used a proprietary system for managing inventory, warehousing, etc., instead of the many platforms available on the market, most of which appear to function better than Tesla's in-house system. Tesla would alternatively need to show that Zoox used the layouts of Tesla's warehouses in designing its own.

It's the same issue that Waymo ran into with Uber: whatever the former employee may have done, the new employer isn't liable for anything if they don't actually use that misappropriated information.


> It's the same issue that Waymo ran into with Uber: whatever the former employee may have done, the new employer isn't liable for anything if they don't actually use that misappropriated information.

Didn't the Waymo-Uber suit end up with Uber settling by paying a quarter billion dollars (in equity, but still)? Doesn't seem like Waymo ran into any fatal liability barriers.


>Didn't the Waymo-Uber suit end up with Uber settling by paying a quarter billion dollars

Yep. They did.

In fairness, though, Waymo did run into difficulties during the litigation in respect of tying the misappropriated documentation to Uber itself, though.

I don't think the difficulty was fatal, but I don't think either side was looking forward to a long and protracted discovery fight to prove the point while Cruise et al. were sitting on the sidelines sniping secrets.


Oh come on. Tesla's logistic processes have problems but this kind of glib sentiment does not contribute to a productive discussion. They still have managed to get to a state of manufacturing thousands of electric vehicles a week, which has _some_ value for any startup getting into manufacturing business (i.e. Zoox). If anything, Tesla's IP in this space likely captures a lot knowledge about what is necessary in an intense bootstrap phase where requirements are constantly changing and iterative flexibility is paramount (more-so than raw scalability).


You may be correct, but your argument doesn't yet convince me.

Rephrased your argument is:

1. Tesla has to show that Zoox is using or used the information.

2. The above point only likely if Tesla's logistics processes are valuable.

3. We know know that they are not valuable because Tesla has had trouble keeping its supply chain optimized.

I take the most amount of issue with #3, but also with #2. That they have trouble shipping whole cars on time does not prove to me that some sub-process of their manufacturing isn't well run or novel. Quite the opposite, really, since they're much more likely to have found alternate approaches since they were building lines from scratch and, thus, not tied to the old ways of solving things. That they're failing to ship on schedule is normal for operations at that size for the first time.

But even leaving aside #3, I still think #2 presumes a level of understanding at Zoox that I don't necessarily think is fair to assume. It may have taken Zoox time to realize that the Tesla approach was wasteful, but that doesn't excuse them from using stolen IP.


Actually, now that I've been able to read the lawsuit, #2 and #3 are irrelevant.

Zoox isn't even to the point of making a product yet--its still in the prototyping stage, and Tesla accused it of stealing logistics IP related to supply chain management and storage. So Tesla can't show them of #1 (using the IP) because Zoox simply isn't in the position of being able to use the IP.


Even in the planning and fund raising stages (for example) this kind of thing can be extremely valuable though. Just narrowing options and identifying strategies in advance without paying for research is huge. Your strict idea of what of “using” the IP means is pretty strained.


>If anything, Zoox used the information allegedly taken from Tesla as an example of what not to do logistically, and trade secrets law doesn't let you sue for that.

Any other lawyer want to sound off on if this is right? Because it doesn't seem right. If I'm using stolen trade secrets to decide what not to do, I'm still making very good use of that information.

Edit: added "other" to first sentence since original commenter is a lawyer


Also an attorney and I read the statute differently than parent comment. The Economic Espionage Act[1] criminalizes the misappropriation of information, not the use of misappropriated information. In relevant part:

> (a) Whoever, with intent to convert a trade secret, that is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in interstate or foreign commerce, to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner thereof, and intending or knowing that the offense will, injure any owner of that trade secret, knowingly—

>> (1) steals, or without authorization appropriates, takes, carries away, or conceals, or by fraud, artifice, or deception obtains such information; [or]

>> (2) without authorization copies, duplicates, sketches, draws, photographs, downloads, uploads, alters, destroys, photocopies, replicates, transmits, delivers, sends, mails, communicates, or conveys such information;

Edit: Just saw parent comment clarified they were discussing Zoox's liability, not the former employee. In that case, subsection 3 of the above excerpt would apply:

>> (3) receives, buys, or possesses such information, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization;

I still read the statute a bit differently from parent. Liability doesn't flow from whether or not the IP was implemented by Zoox but from whether or not Zoox knew the information was stolen. Tesla will have to prove Zoox intended to obtain the proprietary information and knew it was stolen.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1832


Also also a lawyer. There's a number of civil and criminal sources of liability triggered by the fact situation.

I think the OP is referring to the requirements for the sources which trigger 'big dollar' litigation remedies.

The Fenwick memo is pretty helpful - it distinguishes between Wrongful Use and Wrongful Acquisition. Most of the big remedies require Wrongful Use to be demonstrated.


IANAL: I would assume it depends on the situation. If I move from company A to B, and I own a database in both, it is reasonable to expect that mistakes I made at A I won't repeat at B.

If A and B were pharmaceuticals and I know A secretly wasted 20b on a compound that B is considering to test, maybe this is a trade secret that I should be careful divulging.

My intuition is that there is a line between "taking professional skills with you" and "trade secret".


It seems very difficult to prove that in a court of law. If you have a "smoking gun" then you probably don't need comparisons, but in the case where you don't have hard evidence proving similarity is much easier.


According to gamblor956's profile, they are a lawyer.


There are clearly using that title for some reason. Whether they are qualified as a lawyer with expertise in the matters at hand, is another question.


This is a company that had enough spare parts laying around that they could build an entirely new assembly line out of them[1]. They are also notorious for making customers wait months for replacement parts [2]. Tesla has a lot of successes and a lot of valuable IP that competitors might want to steal. Logistics might be the last thing on my list of things worth stealing. Although I guess that doesn't necessarily mean that no one would try.

[1] - https://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/ct-tesl...

[2] - https://forums.tesla.com/forum/forums/tesla-replacement-part...


> Tesla has displayed a chronic inability to manage their own supply chain, especially during the period the employees were at Tesla.

What do you mean by this? They seem to be hitting their delivery targets despite incredibly (and unpredictably) high demand.


They seem to be hitting their delivery targets despite incredibly (and unpredictably) high demand.

I think we have different ideas of "hitting their delivery targets" since Tesla has missed nearly every delivery target they've ever set for themselves...not just for the Model 3 but for the S and X as well. For the Model 3, theses misses are despite having a known number of customers years in advance of actually manufacturing the car.

Tesla has also had repeated issues delivering their cars to customers. And getting exported cars out of port (one of the most straightforward logistics functions a manufacturing company can manage). They still can't get replacement parts to many of their existing customers. These are all basic logistics failures that almost every other manufacturing company (carmakers and otherwise) has no problem handling.


Not sure how a years long sign up and waiting list is "unpredictably". Or was that ironic and I didn't get it?


They can't get repair parts out in a timely manner.


Tesla built a car company in a few years and created 3 cars in less than 10 years that rival giants it's the very opposite of a shit shows it's the most valuable thing they own.


And if Tesla had actually managed to get the logistics part down (i.e,. the IP at stake in these lawsuits), nobody would be regarding Tesla as a shit show today.

Tesla's car designs and brand IP are currently very valuable. They're also not the subject of these lawsuits...


People claiming that Tesla logistics is a "shit show" does not mean that Tesla failed to build a valuable logistics system. Check your logic there. Your saying something doesn't make it true. It would be far more plausible to claim that the repeated theft of Tesla logistics IP implies Tesla has valuable logistics IP.


> But given the shitshow that is Tesla's logistics , that's extremely unlikely, as Tesla's logistics processes simply aren't valuable IP.

The "shitshow" standard is not the standard a court uses regarding IP theft/misappropriation. I'm in enough IP legal battles to know that dumber stuff has been valid in courts.


>But given the shitshow that is Tesla's logistics , that's extremely unlikely, as Tesla's logistics processes simply aren't valuable IP. Tesla has displayed a chronic inability to manage their own supply chain, especially during the period the employees were at Tesla.

Hypothetically, what if their supply chain issues are caused by dogmatically following a flawed and proprietary supply chain algorithm?

If their rival did indeed steal and use the algo, does it matter if it's flawed, for the purposes of a suit?

(Ex: maybe they decided it's easier to prove use of the flawed algo than some of the crown jewels for whatever reason)


If their rival stole and use their logistics algo, that would probably be "use" of the trade secrets. It doesn't matter if the IP is good or bad, just that it was inappropriately acquired and then used by the defendant.

My point about the value of Tesla's logistics IP is that it doesn't make sense for anyone to use it because it's not valuable: Tesla has messed up on the basic logistics enough times that its clear they're not very good at logistics.


>Tesla has messed up on the basic logistics enough times that its clear they're not very good at logistics.

All the mistakes in the world don't matter if the final outcome is a good one. Elon Musk has already been pretty public about some of the mistakes they made and what they learned from them, is it really inconceivable that they learned from those mistakes and are on their way toward a well working logistics system?

Clearly they aren't the best in the world with this stuff, but to say that they have nothing of value at all seems over the top.


Tesla thinks the logistics IP is valuable, does anyone else' opinion matter? Didn't Sergey Aleynikov get nailed to the cross for "stealing" something that didn't matter?


What if the only value they got was to look at the shit show and then not do that? That’s just as reliant on the stolen data/information and I would think just as illegal.


Tesla has displayed a chronic inability to manage their own supply chain

I thought Tesla brought manufacturing in house to simplify their logistics.


> Tesla alleges former employee Guangzhi Cao, who worked on the company’s Autopilot driver assistance feature, stole source code before abruptly quitting in January and taking a job XPeng. Tesla refers to the company as XMotors in its complaint.

Why companies are still using engineers from China to work on trade secrets is beyond me. Even if they start off clean, they can be easily persuaded to steal by the Chinese companies or government.


As someone who has flown back and forth to/from China a lot, it’s remarkable to the point of being a well known joke that the airplanes coming to the US have an astounding number of pregnant women, and the airplanes flying back to China have an astounding number of newborn infants.

The reason, of course, is so that the baby can be born in the US and thereby obtain the full rights of US citizenship.

So some of these Chinese engineers you speak of may be American born US citizens, although they’re wholly raised in and possibly completely loyal to China. The sad thing is that considering the culture someone was raised in (which seems possibly fair, though I’m not 100% certain it’s defensible) comes indistinguishably close to considering race (absolutely not fair in any way). The societal dialog exploring this distinction is fraught to the point that I am uncomfortable even making this comment, and I doubt HR departments are prepared to encode policies that are so perilous.

One escape hatch would be the US security clearance system, which is no doubt allowed to take many factors into account. But that wouldn’t apply here.


I get that it’s fun to beat up on Tesla. We love nothing more than the little guy winning and the winning guy brought low. Tis the great cycle of life.

However, Tesla is the largest battery manufacturer in the world, and manufactures their batteries at significantly lower cost, higher performance, tighter tolerances, and with greater automation than anyone else in the world.

It’s underestimating the difficulty of the problem by far to point to specific (relatively minor, if not insignificant) failures of Tesla and generalize that their logistics IP isn’t worth stealing or couldn’t possibly be beneficial to a competitor.

The gross margins that Tesla has achieved on the Model 3 I believe speaks for itself as the worlds best at that price point, and that does not come without a well run supply chain.

There is no question that Tesla runs hot. I’d like to see anyone else try and come close to what they’ve shipped without a fair share of fuckups along the way.


Tesla is the largest battery manufacturer in the world, and manufactures their batteries at significantly lower cost, higher performance, tighter tolerances, and with greater automation than anyone else in the world.

Panasonic manufactures the battery cells for Tesla and most of the market. Tesla assembles the cells into batteries. It would be accurate to say that Tesla is the largest manufacturer of car batteries, but they are nowhere close to being the largest battery manufacturer in the world.

The gross margins that Tesla has achieved on the Model 3 I believe speaks for itself as the worlds best at that price point, and that does not come without a well run supply chain.

We must be talking about a different Model 3. If Tesla had terrific Model 3 gross margins, it wouldn't have needed to (try to) close all of its stores and eliminate all customer referral incentives just to make the $35k Model 3 possible...in one color and style...with limited options. It's competitors could have great margins too if they only sold the car in one color, one style, and no packages, because their economies of scale would absolutely dwarf Tesla's.

I’d like to see anyone else try and come close to what they’ve shipped without a fair share of fuckups along the way

Toyota and VW shipped 10 million cars worldwide last year without any logistics issues. Hell, most companies are able to ship their products without any controllable logistics issues. Why does Tesla get a pass for failing to do something that every other manufacturer gets right?


The Model 3 cells are custom 2170 li-ion cells co-developed with Tesla and manufactured by Panasonic at Gigafactory 1.

Tesla Gigafactory 1, which started in 2013, has already grown into the biggest battery factory in the world with an annual production capacity of over 20 GWh. [1]

Actually they have exceeded 20 GWh currently and are pushing towards 35 GWh. [2]

Panasonic is a 25% stakeholder in Gigafactory 1. The fact that you think Tesla merely assembles packs, is because most of what they are doing to hit $100/kWh is trade secret.

Their packs are cheaper, lighter, denser. They will be cobalt free. And that’s driven by Tesla IP not just Panasonic. [3]

As far as margins, the idea that you could ship a 50kWh electric car for $35,000 was pure and utter lunacy 10 years ago.

There literally isn’t enough battery production in the world to produce a million EVs a year, let alone 10 million. You are comparing apples to oranges.

[1] - https://www.google.com/amp/s/electrek.co/2018/09/26/panasoni...

[2] - https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/files/blog_attachments/g...

[3] - https://electrek.co/2018/11/13/tesla-battery-cells-improved/


I think people should just watch the gigafactory video:

https://vimeo.com/176841432

there's a lot going on behind the scenes.


IP is not the same as manufacturing capability.


Exactly!

Tesla fans love to claim Autopilot is the best because, for example, Waymo's system is not available to purchase. How then can we be expected to believe a secret Tesla battery project is beating competition? There is no independent review and it is not in production.


> Toyota and VW shipped 10 million cars worldwide last year without any logistics issues. Hell, most companies are able to ship their products without any controllable logistics issues.

These companies are shipping with more or less established infrastructure and supply chains that have been optimized over decades. Tesla has been building almost all of its infrastructure and supply chain from scratch (batteries, supercharger networks, software tech, etc.), while also getting cars delivered. And breaking tons of new ground in almost every area of automotive tech.

(You can argue that Torota and VW build infrastructure too, but almost all of it is incremental, and almost none of it is groundbreaking.)

> Why does Tesla get a pass for failing to do something that every other manufacturer gets right?

Nobody's giving them a pass. It just seems unreasonable to draw conclusions without understanding the entire context.


>It would be accurate to say that Tesla is the largest manufacturer of car batteries

Pretty sure that title goes to Johnson Controls, who produces about 1/3rd of all car batteries globally.


Interestingly they're selling that business to Brookfield

https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/...


"one color and style .. with limited options" is simply incorrect, and your biases are showing. You're either being disingenuous or not affording the same luxury to Tesla that other manufacturers get. Plenty of manufacturers charge more for different colors, and, by the way, that's considered an "option".

It's also an assumption that they had to (try to) close all their stores to make the $35k Model 3 possible.

The fact of the matter is, every manufacturer wants to sell products for the highest overall profit (unit profit * volume) possible, and lower overhead. The fact that they previously refused to sell (presumably lower margin) short-range 3s does not mean it wasn't possible. Maybe it wasn't possible. Or maybe they'd rather make $100 per unit on a mid-range than $1 per unit on a short-range.


> in one color

Why is "black" and not "white" the standard color?

Asking this because I think that black electric cars need in general more air-conditioning, therefore more energy, have therefore less range than white cars - based on the belief that it's easier to heat a car than to cool it => if the previous statements are correct, why is the high-energy-consumption-colour less expensive than the low-energy-consumption-colour?


I wouldn't put it past Elon to be because of Ford's famous edict when ramping the Model T: "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black."

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Henry_Ford


I've secretly thought it was like the airlines taking away legroom and making you buy it back with an upgrade.


Maybe a nod to Ford on the model t? I think he famously said, "they can have it in any color they want, as long as it's black"


> It would be accurate to say that Tesla is the largest manufacturer of car batteries,

Uh, duh? Last I checked, Tesla mostly sells cars. If they were the largest manufacturer of, say, cellphone batteries, THAT would have been surprising.


They're not even the largest manufacturer of car batteries.


In term of overall capacity they mean.


They're the manufacturer of the largest batteries then. Not the largest manufacturer of batteries.


Have you ever played a real time strategy game?

I see Tesla as a company that is basically putting all their resources into building their tech tree and their vehicle and parts factories, but cannot mine enough vespene gas to support the stores.


> I get that it’s fun to beat up on Tesla. We love nothing more than the little guy winning and the winning guy brought low.

Huh.. and here I thought Tesla was the little guy in an industry defined by century-old behemoths.

The truth is people like to shit on other people. As Taylor Swift famously said[0], "we don't live just in a celebrity takedown culture, we live in a takedown culture. People will find anything about you and twist it to where it's weird or wrong or annoying or strange or bad."

Yes, there's plenty we can criticize Tesla on, but people will extend this to even seemingly benign things like having something stolen from the company because it's cool to hate on the company in $current_year

––––––––––

[0] https://www.pressparty.com/pg/newsdesk/taylorswift/view/1136...


Well, shitting on Tesla for something like the fatal crashes where autopilot played a role does have a certain appeal. But at the same time, when they released their $35k vehicle I was still cheering them on too.


Except... It wasn't $35k anywhere but on paper. You had to buy the upgrades.


Do you mean in the past? I'm talking about their recent release in February. I can order one now, $35k, no mandatory upgrades that increase the price, delivery in 6-8 weeks.



> without a fair share of fuckups along the way

My problem with Tesla is the same I have with Uber and AirBNB: it's not that they royally fuck up now and then, it's not even that they fuck up regularly.

It's that their fuckups all betray their moral turpitude.

They do not "fuck up" as in "security breach" or "bad bugs".

They "fuck up" as in "lie, steal, cheat" and yes, arguably even "kill".

I don't care which great achievements these companies may bring us. Or have already brought us. They need to die. Other companies can pick up those achievements and iterate on them.


Not to feed the troll, but I would put Boeing a hell of a lot higher on that list than Tesla.

I drive with AutoPilot every day. One thing is damn sure, you watch it vigilantly, and you can always, always take control by just turning wheel or tapping the brakes.

Tesla tells me every single time I engage AutoPilot to keep my hands on the wheel and be ready to take control.

A special place in hell for automation that you don’t even know exists, that was concealed from you for a profit motive, flying your plane into the ground.


In a worst case scenario Tesla can veer into a concrete lane divider and kill you in under a second. I don't think Boeing comes anywhere close to that timescale. I don't think it's reasonable to expect a person monitoring the vehicle to be able to react in time. Calling an L2 assist 'Autopilot' is just .. evil. Just like peddling shitty statistics that 'shows' AP is safer than manual driving (it really isn't).


Honest question, because I've never used an autopilot feature and have virtually no commute: if you have to watch it so vigilantly, what is the appeal or practical value?


It changes the way I drive. I don't focus on making minor adjustments to keep the vehicle centered in the lane. I don't need to predominantly look far down the lane to try to keep my peripheral vision maximized, and only take cursory glances around, like I would if I was actively steering. I don't worry about drifting out of the lane if I'm looking at something in the next lane over or in the rear-view for a moment.

I can scan more of my immediate surroundings and notice potential hazards which are not just directly in front of me much more easily.

I also find it's a lot less tiring to have the car dealing with the micro-adjustments in steering while I do the higher level planning.

I've said it before in other comments, but I honestly believe 20 years from now we might not have "sleep in your car while it takes you from point A to B" but we will look back and wonder how we managed to drive cars while constantly have to manually and meticulously center them in our lanes.

In fact I personally think it's quite analogous to how airplane autopilot actually functions (even if the general public perception of airplane autopilot does not match reality). It requires a pilot to constantly be monitoring the situation, and in fact it frees the pilot to be able to do necessary planning tasks, but at no point does the autopilot itself carry the actual responsibility of operating the vehicle.


Very interesting, thank you. I think the comparison to airplane autopilot is apt. At that industry did go through a period of readjustment, where autopilot contributed to a lack of attention/readiness. Those systems have been tweaked over the years to mitigate that risk. Cars will undoubtedly have to go through the same growth. Makes me wonder if special training should be required for drivers of such cars before we get to L3-L4 self driving capabilities. You sound responsible in your use though.


You are risking your life and the lives of others in return for convenience.

> I don't focus on making minor adjustments to keep the vehicle centered in the lane.

Why is this a benefit? In this video [1] you only have two seconds to make a correction.

> I don't worry about drifting out of the lane

That is concerning given what we know about AP's behavior.

The behavior demonstrated here was new as of March 2018, later disappeared, and then reappeared again in an AP update in 2019 [2]. This issue was also demonstrated to appear at the location of a Model X crash that resulted in a fatality [3].

Then there are the two left-turning white tractor-trailer deaths in Florida, seemingly identical conditions on divided roads, spaced 3 years apart [4] [5].

You could say, "well I don't have conditions like those where I commute", but then, you don't know where the next screw-up will be.

EDIT: Here is another case, just happened two days ago [7], a Model X on autopilot unexpectedly veered right at highway speed, crashing into a truck.

Also note, there is no proof that AP is safer. NHTSA's "40% safer" claim was debunked when they were forced to release data as a result of a lawsuit [6].

> In fact I personally think it's quite analogous to how airplane autopilot actually functions

Airplane pilots have minutes to react to autopilot malfunctions. In a car you may have only 1 or 2 seconds.

[1] https://v.redd.it/n6iukmpsw3q01

[2] https://v.redd.it/p3xhls52w6n21

[3] https://www.reddit.com/r/teslamotors/comments/899i1w/my_mode...

[4] https://electrek.co/2016/07/01/understanding-fatal-tesla-acc...

[5] https://electrek.co/2019/03/01/tesla-driver-crash-truck-trai...

[6] https://www.thedrive.com/tech/26455/nhtsas-flawed-autopilot-...

[7] https://i.imgur.com/UZS1m6j.png


> I get that it’s fun to beat up on Tesla.

There are many reasons to legitimately shit on Tesla including their worker treatment, statements made by their CEO etc.


The point isn’t that you can prove Tesla isn’t perfect. That goes without saying.

The assertion was they are so far from perfect that in fact their IP isn’t even defensible in a court of law.

So please don’t reply with more quips about how Tesla isn’t perfect. Why does their CEO mouthing off on Twitter, or attacking disgruntled employees, or dubious onsite health care, or pie-in-the-sky volume estimates, or market manipulation, or literal dumpster fires on their property, mean that their IP is so much shit it can be stolen without consequence?

Throughout, despite, or perhaps even in part due to all of the above, they have still achieved great things and changed an industry. They are still the biggest battery manufacturer in the world. They still make a handful of really fucking awesome electric cars, which you can order in a few minutes on your phone and have delivered to your house. And their margins on those cars are the industry best. Those points seem to support the notion that they must have some valuable logistical IP and trade secrets backing that up.


What are you talking about ?

Nobody said that Tesla's IP was not valuable or that stealing it is okay.


Oh, that’s funny. All this time commenting on my phone, I just realized I posted my OP as a top-level comment and not as a reply to gamblor956 as intended.

> But given the shitshow that is Tesla's logistics , that's extremely unlikely, as Tesla's logistics processes simply aren't valuable IP. Tesla has displayed a chronic inability to manage their own supply chain, especially during the period the employees were at Tesla. If anything, Zoox used the information allegedly taken from Tesla as an example of what not to do logistically, and trade secrets law doesn't let you sue for that.


I'm not saying that Tesla has no valuable IP (it's brand IP is quite valuable).

I am saying that its logistics IP is worth nothing to another company, and right now its logistics IP isn't worth much to Tesla either. Even Musk acknowledges that they're in "logistics hell" right now...


Seems quite odd that people keep trying to steal worthless property.


Nothing you've said actually runs counter to the parent comment, though. Tesla can simultaneously be awful at logistics and still be the largest battery pack manufacturer because no one else really wanted to get into that game until recently.

Also, the gross margins on the Model 3 have little to do with supply chain. They cut a lot of corners on build quality, interior fit and finish, etc. to get to that margin and they're only able to do so because of lack of competition in the segment.


They cut corners but have the highest safety rating ever and the highest customer satisfaction?

Is it reasonable to call something a cut corner when the end result is success by nearly every metric? Maybe that corner needn't exist? Scaling issues are unavoidable. So much nitpicking.


Cutting corners during manufacturing is unrelated to safety rating (within reason).

The safety comes from robust design, not superior manufacturing practices. Neither are fit and finish related to safety.


Cut corners on amenities, though only compared to their other models. Still a lot nicer than my car


When body panels don't line up, doors don't close properly without slamming them, and your infotainment system randomly bugs out (all issues I saw when borrowing a Model 3), your vehicle manufacturer cut corners. Meanwhile my distinct impression of interior quality when sitting in one is that it's basically a mass market car with a leather option, not a luxury price point vehicle.

And no, scaling issues are absolutely not unavoidable. These are all solved problems. Tesla just rushed vehicles out the door with crap production line QA because they were running out of money and market patience.


So existing manufacturers ship flawless vehicles?


It's really annoying when you twist commenters' words to suit your agenda and go straight to logical fallacies. I'll ask you to please stop doing that. No, existing manufacturers do not ship 100% flawless vehicles, but the average build quality of the ones they actually sell to customers is significantly higher than what Tesla is pushing out with Model 3. A five second Google search for "Model 3 Quality" will show you this.


His argument was some vehicles had flaws and that can be avoided. Who avoids it? That's not even a partial twist.

Moreover, both of your responses ignore my original point of customer satisfaction. If this were a major problem, why would they have among the highest satisfaction?

https://insideevs.com/tesla-model-3-consumer-reports-owner-s...

How do you reconcile those positions? All Tesla buyers are so blinded by the cult of Musk that they tell everyone their car that they hate is great?


> Tesla is the largest battery manufacturer in the world, and manufactures their batteries at significantly lower cost, higher performance, tighter tolerances, and with greater automation than anyone else in the world.

Are we expected to just ignore LG Chem? Tesla's batteries are good, and I'm glad they're investing in them, but Tesla isn't ahead of their competitors there in any significant way.


Tesla is not anywhere near the largest battery maker and their product is made to the exact same specifications as off-the-shelf Panasonic batteries, by Panasonic, in a Panasonic factory with a big Tesla sign on it. But what I'd love to know is how you came to believe any of that stuff you wrote.


The batteries in the Model 3 are not in fact off-the-shelf Panasonic batteries.

Tesla has the largest single battery factory, but they seem to be second behind CATL in the latest annualized production rates.

CATL shipped 7.3GWh in 2018-Q2, I can’t find Q3 numbers but I did find one site saying “monthly installed battery capacity with 1.47GWh, 2.45GWh, 2.49GWh and 3.4GWh produced respectively from August to November in 2018.” But these are not just EV batteries.

For EV batteries specifically, Tesla produces more than 50% of global supply.


The global lead-acid battery market is still much larger than the global li-ion market, so your statement that Tesla is the world's largest battery maker has degraded into Tesla is the world's 2nd-largest maker of Li-ion batteries for the EV market, a much weaker statement.


Tesla claims they make 60% of all supply for the EV market specifically.

I believe this excludes plug-in hybrids and buses. It is also counting all Gigafactory pack capacity, which includes cells made by Pano in Asia that are assembled at Giga for Model S/X packs, so a bit squishy.


How is it a "Panasonic factory" when Panasonic only own a 25% stake in it?


> I’d like to see anyone else try and come close to what they’ve shipped without a fair share of fuckups along the way.

Um, okay. I mean, there's the Chevy Bolt and the Jaguar I-PACE. They're both pretty good EVs, and they compare against the short-range RWD M3 and the MX 75D, respectively. I don't see any big fuckups with those two cars, at least compared to the Tesla cars.

Speaking personally, I've owned a LEAF, an MX, and an I-PACE. Of the three, the Tesla has been an order of magnitude more problematic than the other two.


An article about Tesla on HN always has the top comment defending them. Always.


I've often joked that the companies I work for should give their source code to their competitors. By the time the competitors figure it out, our company will be so far ahead :-)

It is interesting to speculate on the value of source code, though. For Tesla autopilot I'm more than willing to accept that there is some "secret sauce" of trade secrets in there that would help out a competitor, but usually I find that source code contains the most mundane stuff. Most professionals could write it nearly as fast as they could learn to work with the legacy systems if they knew what they were building. Instead it's the requirements that are gold. You figure out exactly what needs to be built in a great amount of detail, then you are at least as well off as having it big ball of messy logic.

Take note those that want to "steal" a competitor's project: just buy a copy of the executable and start figuring out exactly what it does ;-)

BTW, as a (on topic) side note, I once had an ex-colleague tell me that they copied all of the source code for every company they ever worked for -- just so they could look stuff up. It is not completely implausible that an ex-employee would copy the code to help their own performance without any involvement of their new employer.


This might be unpopular here, but I kind of wish this and other similar systems were more open source, or even just shared between companies. If companies are going to be putting a system out there on the streets anyway, and Tesla's is comparatively more quality and perhaps thus safer (I'm not making a claim, just positing a hypothetical), then it would only be to everyone's benefit if every company didn't have to (often shoddily) reinvent this wheel every time.


Open source tends to work great for re-implementing technology that is already understood. It tends not to work for exploratory research, since that requires risk and ingenuity, not a designed-by-committee approach.

R&D of this sort is funded best with a strong profit motive, unless the government is willing to shell out for it.


I'm not sure how that follows. Most big open-source projects are in practice owned and controlled by a single company/entity, and the processes don't differ much from what you'd see in-house. What you're describing sounds more like how standardisation bodies work than the realities of functioning software projects.


I guess the corporation, in this case, is acting as a benefactor just as the government would be in other cases.

In order to work on pie in the sky ideas, you need to hire brilliant people for long periods of time, with low certainty of success. And this is expensive, and corporations will not generally do this out of the kindness of their hearts... the stars align sometimes where the private incentives and public interests are the same.

Xerox PARC, Google X, Bell Labs, and so forth meet this description just as much as DARPA.

But the traditional direct profit motive is an important piece of the engine of progress, and relying only on this other incentive structure would cause stagnation.


I would not describe many open source projects as designed-by-committee, and while open source might be less suited for exploratory research there have been quite many novel things first implemented in open source projects. Look at the various video codecs or the innovations in compiler technology gcc has contributed to, or the plenty of innovations made in various open source databases.


Much of the Apache foundation projects come to mind when thinking about the GP's assertion, though certainly it doesn't hold for all projects: many are fairly novel and exploratory.


There are a number of them like git and bitcoin which start out with one guy building a novel algorithm and then releasing the source to the world afterwards.

The definition of open source might include such a thing, but a project that originates from a lone genius rather than a community is not what is usually meant when people speak of open source.


> since that requires risk and ingenuity

That is great for many things, but for something like self-driving tech, it is already being used in cars on the road. This is not just experimental, it already has people's lives on the line. That is a lot of trust in something that is not available to be audited.


I'm not disagreeing with you at all really (not sure I agree completely, either), which is why I see the need to approach cases like this (self-driving software sharing, not the specific theft of IP case at hand) a bit more specially. I don't have the solution, I just know that lives could potentially be at risk and if the only reason is profit motive, it kinda sucks. I know this happens in other places, too, but it's my opinion that the best safety should be the standard, not a premium.

EDIT: Lorkki's comment explains part of my thoughts on it well. Other companies subsidize open source project that exist at the core of their business. Is there a difference here other than scale? If so, what, and how would it change the situation?


I'd disagree, for R&D of novel technology there is a lot to be said for casual contributions. If ML was open source, the state of the industry would almost assuredly be better than the current state of things.


There needs to be a shift in how proprietary technologies that have universal benefits for our society are viewed.

It may be normal for a company to withold information to keep a competitive edge in a nascent industry, but it will also mean that their press releases lauding reduced death rates in their products will be double edged swords, unless they make the ethical decision to share their improvements with other players and reduce death rates across the industry.


Sharing technology would reduce death rates. But if technology was not shared, competitors would need to reduce death rates even further in order to compete, which might be better for society overall.


They'd also have an easier time further reducing death rates by getting access to tech from competitors sooner, and improve from there.


U.S. specific, but this is what the patent system was originally designed to solve, and is a power given to the U.S. government.

“To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.“


Similar to GPS


Counterpoint strawman: keeping these systems proprietary might also drive more innovation, as companies "re-inventing the wheel" will come up with different solutions or features that will continue to push the bleeding edge of the industry.


I completely agree, but it would be hard to incentivize investors to pay for all of the developer time (and, in the case of autonomous vehicles, driver/vehicle time) needed to get the systems up and running without the potential for huge returns to equity.

As I see it, there are two ways to avoid the wasteful duplication of effort that we're seeing today: Either a private monopoly pays for it, or the government does. Both options (and the status quo) have their pros and cons, but I'd personally prefer that the government fund it - ideally, borrow to fund R&D now, and then pay off the debt through taxes on autonomous vehicles once they go live. In practice, we're definitely trending toward the first option, one implication of which is that open source is a pipe dream.


The minute anyone sells a self driving car it will be completely dismantled and quickly reverse engineered by every auto manufacturer, like they already do for every product their competitors put out. The reverse engineering even happens before your product is out. Go to any auto show and you will find employees of other companies taking measurements or scanning paint pigments of concept cars that will never even hit production. You loose your proprietary advantage the minute you sell your first product.


Aaand? That doesn't make it legal to take internal data about how the car itself was made. Reverse engineering is a complicated process, and one that is costly, and thus makes it risky to do- especially when we're talking ginormous batteries one errant screwdriver away from discharging- and is why it's generally acceptable to reverse a vehicle and not acceptable to take internal documents.

For example: knowing that someone machined the 6061 aluminum in the engine is completely different from knowing that it took twelve tries and a five-axis mill to do so, and that the entire chassis takes twelve hours to assemble, twenty people, and fifty-three robots.


The source code of this system may not be all you'd need, or even the most valuable or competitively differentiating element. As I understand it, the system is based on machine learning with a large training dataset gathered from customers (the "fleet learning" technology).

From a discussion about determining whether to interpret radar-detected objects as obstacles:

"Initially, the vehicle fleet will take no action except to note the position of road signs, bridges and other stationary objects, mapping the world according to radar. The car computer will then silently compare when it would have braked to the driver action and upload that to the Tesla database. If several cars drive safely past a given radar object, whether Autopilot is turned on or off, then that object is added to the geocoded whitelist."

https://www.recode.net/2016/9/12/12889358/tesla-autopilot-da...

It may be that much of what makes autopilot effective is just data, rather than intelligent algorithms.

Furthermore, giving away such data used to tune the system may create customer privacy concerns.


Simple enough to implement. The public owns the roads, the public sets access restrictions for using those roads.

Just need a 'no code no road' law.


But that isn't what would happen. What would happen is tesla would go out of business because it's no better than it's competitors and because the industry is perfectly competitive no one would have money to reinvest and the tech would never advance.


Yes, I wish everything was free too.


I have a unpopular opinion here but I actually think Tesla is a tech company and has valuable information worth stealing.


I agree with you. Tesla is far from perfect, and they make plenty of mistakes, but you can't deny that they basically built a car company from nothing in just a handful of years.

And if you take into consideration that they had to spend lots of time to make up for mistakes made along the way (Musk's infamous "we tried to automate too much" statements), that just makes it that much more impressive that they are where they are today.

Other commenters here are talking about how their famous difficulty in ramping up production or problems with sourcing parts as if it means there's nothing of value for someone to steal. But I just can't see that being true.

I can't see Tesla having absolutely nothing of value in their logistics processes at all. And if there is even one worthwhile thing, something they are doing right that others are hesitant to try, or can't do for other reasons, that's something that is very valuable to Tesla as a company.


I know software is a different area.. but such valuable secrets they started building cars in an open tent where the whole line could be videoed from the street...


This is sort of the exact opposite of patent trolls yeah? A patent troll sits on a patent doing next-to-nothing in order to hold on to their "extremely valuable" rights.

Tesla on the other-hand is executing on its patents so hard it doesn't even have time to try to protect them.

Perhaps their secret is _just doing stuff_, instead of, you know, _not_.

If thats the case, with my experience at San Francisco startups, there is a very real chance Zoox hasn't stolen the _valuable_ knowledge :P


Trade secrets are different than patents, you can use patents in open air and people can't take them, you have to publish the details to get the patent anyway (in theory). Trade secrets are lost if you exhibit them publicly.


There's an emerging trend with tech companies to sue former individual employees for theft. It's a departure from the usual practice of suing other companies who acquire the employee and work on a competing product. The idea in silicon valley is to intimidate not the person being sued, but all future employees within your own company who might be thinking of doing the same thing. It entirely changes the calculus of moving on to another firm when you know you'd be dealing with litigation for years afterwords. It's a shame because Silicon Valley was built on former employees leaving their companies and starting their own firms to innovate.


i think back to https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-03-13/when-elon... (previous HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19378658 )

> Later that day, Tripp heard from the sheriff’s department in Storey County, Nev. Tesla’s security department had passed a tip to police. An anonymous caller had contacted the company to say Tripp was planning a mass shooting at the Gigafactory.

it sounds like there's a reasonably high probability that some one high up at Telsa arranged for some bullshit report to be made to police claiming an ex-employee whistleblower was going to go on a shooting spree at the factory. I'd like to see this bullshit report investigated and prosecuted as attempted-murder-(by-cop), this behaviour by any employer to any former employee, let alone a whistleblower, is completely unacceptable. It makes it a bit hard to take other claims made by the same company about other former employees seriously given that in some cases the company is observably acting in a very toxic and fraudulent manner.


> prosecuted as attempted-murder-(by-cop), this behaviour by any employer to any former employee, let alone a whistleblower, is completely unacceptable.

So the only evidence that we have as to whether this anonymous call did or did not occur is the statements by Tesla alleging that it did, and you choose to believe that it didn't. Why? I can understand holding Telsa to a higher burden of proof, - concluding that we don't have enough evidence - but why jump to claiming it was all made up? Without some evidence indicating it was fabricated, that sounds like a rather slanderous accusation to make.


> did, and you choose to believe that it didn't. Why?

maybe the call was indeed real, but the call was from someone in management at Telsa, or someone at arms length that they got to do make the call. i agree this is speculation, if there is evidence that this is the case then whoever was involved stuffed up pretty badly. maybe i'm completely off the mark. as I said, i'd like to see it investigated.

Regardless of whether there was actually a call, or who made it, it's difficult to understand what other motivation any party other than Telsa trying to suppress a whistleblower would have to chase after the former employee. again, this is speculation, but i'd bet on it.


Extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence.


It's hard to know what to think of these things with the past strange comments about "saboteurs" and Elon's own strange legal choices related to the SEC.

Is this real or more of a sort of blame game strange conspiracy theory thing?


Strange legal choices wrt to the SEC? Just wait for the judge decision: the SEC is in a clear overreach here, as all the tweets they cited in their filing are non material.

They even misquoted the tweet to say "500K" instead of "about 500K" and anyone can add up the previsouly published numbers to conclude the company should reach a runrate of 500K at the end of the year (Musk tweeted nothing new, it was already disclosed in the quarterly report).

You'll see.


The judge will definitely not rule that the SEC is in "clear overreach" since the 500k tweet is only one of the many tweets they cite in their filing as evidence that Elon has violated his settlement agreement. The 500k tweet was just the final straw.

Also, with respect to the "previously published numbers," Tesla provided a range of 360k to 500k. A large range, indicating significant uncertainty. Musk's tweet narrowed that range quite drastically to the upper-high end (i.e., "about 500k"), indicating substantially less uncertainty about Tesla's capacity. That is materially new information. Moreover, Musk's comment was that Tesla would make 500k cars in 2019, not make cars at an annualized rate of 500k/year at the end of the year. He had to correct that tweet with a followup, but the followup tweet also contained material information: he narrowed the 2019 delivery estimate of 400k.

Musk is going to face some penalty for violating the settlement agreement. No one is sure what that will be. He'll probably still be CEO afterward, but he'll definitely be a few million poorer...and it's likely that Tesla will also pay another monetary penalty for its failure to uphold its part of the settlement agreement.


>only one of the many tweets they cite in their filing as evidence that Elon has violated his settlement agreement

You're serious? The other ones are hilariously insignificant (absolutely none of them were material, in any way). They were just about Tesla products. You can't be serious.


Doubtful. The SEC tried to pad its complaint in its reply. That's not an indication of strength.


What motivation would they have for doing that? Genuinely curious (I don't care either way).


So the complaint is filed then Tesla can provide an answer and the SEC a reply to that answer. A reply is usually brief and reiterates points made in the original complaint. Here, however, the SEC introduced new arguments in its reply. This usually happens because the defendant's answer was strong. Therefore, the SEC seemingly believed its original complaint was insufficient. As such, the SEC is at a higher probability of looking bad here.


I swear people think he is in a wrestling match or beauty contest. Musk was in clear violation of his settlement and if this was a poor person on probation, they would be thrown back in jail. The only thing keeping Musk safe is his brand recognition and money to keep fighting in the courts.


>Musk was in clear violation of his settlement

You didn't read any of the papers submitted to the judge, did you? You gotta prove that saying "production of about 500" is a material information, when you already disclosed that production should reach 150+350.

Sure the SEC say that 500 is new to them, although they were already aware of 150+350.


The burden of proof is on the SEC. The settlement agreement’s language and the policy that Tesla enacted as a result - that the SEC approved - allows Musk to do exactly what he did. Read the legal briefs. Have you ever been in a court of law? Facts matter. Case law matters. Prior communications between the parties matter.


There's potentially a very large difference between the number of cars made in 2019, and the extrapolated production rate at the end of 2019 (e.g. number of cars made in the last week of December * 52). I could be wrong but I don't think that before the tweet there were any previous filings or announcements saying that Tesla would build 500,000 cars this year.


>I could be wrong but I don't think that before the tweet there were any previous filings or announcements saying that Tesla would build 500,000 cars this year.

I'm fairly certain that during the Q4 2018 earnings call they talked about expecting to deliver between 350,000 and 500,000 cars in 2019.

I'm not a lawyer, I don't know much about public companies or regulations, so I don't know if that counts or not (or if saying "500,000 in 2019" is hugely different than "between 350,000 and 500,000 in 2019"), but it's not like the 500,000 was never said before.


The problem isn't that the 500k was never said before. The problem was that the original use of the 500k was part of a ranged estimate with a great deal of uncertainty (approximately 30-45%), but Musk's original problematic tweet eliminated all of that uncertainty. The elimination of uncertainty is material information to investors.

And the original tweet was also simply wrong. Musk had to correct in a followup tweet about the 500k being an annualized rate.


From the Tesla court filing: "As noted above, on January 2, 2019, Tesla filed a Form 8-K reporting its Q4 2018 production of “25,161 Model S and X vehicles, consistent with our long-term run rate of approximately 100,000 per year.” Then, during the January 30 Earnings Call, Musk stated that Model 3 production in 2019 would be on the order of “350,000 to 500,000” vehicles. Tesla similarly disclosed in its January 30 Update and February 19 Form 10-K that it was “targeting annualized Model 3 output in excess of 500,000 units sometime between Q4 of 2019 and Q2 of 2020.”"

So 2019 production estimate was 450,000-600,000 and the SEC felt compelled to file for contempt over a tweet that said about 500,000 units...

This is so frivolous, it's embarrassing.


That's a production run rate, not a production total.


It's a strange legal choice when you could just not tweet stuff that any lawyer would tell you not to, first to get in trouble, then to extend it...


Unless it gives Tesla/Musk the opportunity to prove that the SEC is abusive and get a judge to formalize this.


The amount of vitriol against Tesla here is insane. Just the fact that incumbent car manufacturers are now seriously considering electric cars after decades of ignorance because of Tesla is a great win for humanity.

Virtually all tech companies have missteps and Tesla is no exception. Let's look at the big picture here in what Tesla is trying to do.

We had Solar panels installed with a Tesla powerwall and did home efficiency improvements and are now pretty much self sufficient (includes charging our vehicles). Think about that for a second.

Meanwhile. We have Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon and even Apple just cater to our desires for consumerism and endless distraction with some of them even trampling user privacy. But hey, let's all trash everything about Tesla because it's the hip thing to do right?


Interesting. I thought Baidu and Alibaba are supposed to be leading AI companies. If so, why would XiaoPeng not partner with them?


I would be curious to see what kind of enterprise resource planning software Tesla uses in house. I guess I always just figured they used a setup via Microsoft Dynamics or Oracle.


Is there any enterprise software that looks for this behavior inside corp systems and alerts the admins/management? If someone just goes ahead and downloads 300k files, that must not be a very normal way of operations, regardless of your role. Even if there are jobs where one would need to download so many files, the systems could be alerted with appropriate flags. What do the big Cos use for this?



Isn't that potentially billions of dollars worth of stolen IP? That's not cool.


Better be a legit suit otherwise there goes any legitimate engineering prospects.


Reading Bad Blood at the moment and this post immediately made me think of it. Obviously Tesla has already released products that work etc. and I have no clue whether who is in the right here but it's not often we have high profile tech companies suing employees like this.


I think this "lawsuit" is an April fools joke, as Tesla openly open source everything they work on:

https://www.tesla.com/blog/all-our-patent-are-belong-you


patent != copyright


To add on that, patents require the disclosure of a method in exchange for a protection of that method. If Tesla applies for a patent, they have "opened the source" by that action. If Tesla then goes and open sources their patents, they've essentially said "we don't need protection anymore, feel free to build this right now instead of in 20 years."

Trade secrets, like how they get their material, some specific PLC code, code that isn't specifically disclosed, or change orders for specific mechanisms have de jure copyright and ownership by Tesla. If Tesla decides not to publish, publicize, or even share documents, someone who shouldn't have documents but does, as well as the person who violated the copyright would be in trouble.


This tactic has been used against companies friends of mine have started. I've only seen it used by large 20+ year old 1970s/1980s publicly traded companies, never someone like Tesla. The way it works is basically that you track where your ex-employees go after they leave. If they go to a competitor/disruptor start-up with out deep pockets, sue that competitor over trade secrets. It's nearly impossible to disprove in court. The competitor start-up exhausts its VC/Angel money on legal fees and goes bankrupt. Potential new customers are wary of using their tech because of the lawsuit. It's a lethal combination that ensures that you don't have to out innovate them. Stealing source code is one thing. I certainly understand suing over that. But, suing over stealing ideas about warehousing from a car company? Really? I don't see any justification for that other than a lack of faith in the ability of your own company to compete and innovate.

Full disclosure: I am shorting TSLA stock. I have worked on autonomous vehicles and do not believe Tesla's claims about their technology. I expect Tesla to go bankrupt sometime in the next few years. I'm even more convinced of this now that I see them using company-killer lawsuits against other competing start-ups.


If you are a relatively new company, getting on stable ground, would you appreciate it if someone stole your IP and then proceeded to copy you, and get a huge boost past the part that nearly bankrupted you and left you homeless? That's not very fair to me, either.

Full disclosure: I do agree that there is such a thing as going overboard, but when your top engineers get recruited to a new company doing the same exact thing and take their laptop with them, that's a bit much. Especially when they load up all their drives with documentation before they leave.


> I am shorting TSLA stock

Then you are financially motivated to spew lies. Short sellers are probably the scummiest people on the planet, that will do anything to make a quick buck.

Take this for example: http://www.cc.com/video-clips/rfag2r/the-daily-show-with-jon...

> I expect Tesla to go bankrupt sometime in the next few years.

Short sellers have been saying that since 2008 because it serves their interest. Yet, here we are a full decade later.


The stock isn't doing to well today or Friday. Maybe, just maybe, shitty people lie about financials and build shitty worthless companies.


Tesla has done this previously a meritless trade secrets theft case against Henry Fisker after he left the company, and later against Aurora innovation, a company cofounded by Sterling Anderson, a former director of Autopilot.




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