Tesla’s lawsuit against the former director of its Autopilot program, Sterling Anderson, has been settled with neither side admitting to any wrongdoing under the agreement. However, Anderson is now barred from recruiting Tesla employees for one year.
As some background, Tesla initiated the lawsuit in January, alleging that Anderson tried to recruit Tesla engineers to his new company (Aurora Innovation) before actually leaving Tesla. In addition, Tesla’s lawsuit alleged that Anderson downloaded “competitively sensitive” information to his laptop before leaving.
Reuters provides more: “Aurora and Chris Urmson, a co-founder of Aurora and the former head of Alphabet Inc’s self-driving project, were co-defendants in the lawsuit. Claims against Aurora and Urmson were also dropped… The defendants will pay $100,000 to Tesla. Tesla’s complaint had called for a one-year injunction on soliciting Tesla employees to come work at Aurora.”
In relation to the news of the settlement, Tesla released a public statement that the settlement “establishes a process to allow Tesla to recover all of the proprietary information that was taken from the company” and also that Aurora’s computers would be audited to insure that Tesla’s intellectual property wasn’t in use.
Aurora, for its part, denies that any of Tesla’s confidential information exists on its computer systems. That company released a public statement that noted that “there is no evidence that anyone at Aurora has used or has access to Tesla confidential information.” That statement also argued that the company had agreed to pay the $100,000 payment simply “to demonstrate the integrity of Aurora’s intellectual property.”
In related news, a US federal judge is slated to issue a ruling on Waymo’s/Google’s request that Uber be blocked from testing its self-driving cars because of allegations relating to former engineer Anthony Levandowski stealing IP.
Levandowski, according to Waymo, downloaded over 14,000 confidential files from Waymo’s servers before leaving the company to set up the self-driving truck firm Otto, which was shortly thereafter acquired by Uber. Notably, Levandowski is known to have had meetings with Uber execs before leaving Waymo/Google.