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Tesla Sues Former Director of Autopilot, Alleging Stolen Secrets

Jan. 26, 2017
Tesla is seeking a court order barring Sterling Anderson, former Google Self-Driving Car Project director Chris Urmson and Aurora Innovation from recruiting Tesla employees and contractors for one year. 

Tesla Motors Inc. has sued the ex-director of its driver-assist system Autopilot, accusing him of taking confidential information and trying to recruit at least a dozen former colleagues.

Sterling Anderson started working on an autonomous driving startup called Aurora Innovation LLC last summer, before his departure from the company in December, Tesla alleged in a complaint Thursday. The former Autopilot executive has been collaborating with Chris Urmson, the former head of the Google self-driving car project, according to the complaint in state court in San Jose, California.

Tesla is seeking a court order barring Anderson, Urmson and Aurora Innovation from recruiting Tesla employees and contractors for one year after Anderson’s termination date. The Palo Alto, California-based company also wants an order blocking any use of Tesla’s proprietary information related to autonomous driving. “Tesla’s meritless lawsuit reveals both a startling paranoia and an unhealthy fear of competition,” Aurora said in a statement Thursday. “This abuse of the legal system is a malicious attempt to stifle a competitor and destroy personal reputations. Aurora looks forward to disproving these false allegations in court and to building a successful self-driving business.”

The case is Tesla Motors Inc. v. Anderson, 17CV305646, Santa Clara County Superior Court (San Jose, California).

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