| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Tesla Inc and the former
head of its Autopilot program have settled a lawsuit brought by
the electric vehicle maker in January, the parties said on
Wednesday, in a deal that prevents the former executive from
recruiting Tesla employees for a year.
Neither side admitted to any wrongdoing under the terms of
the agreement, which was seen by Reuters.
Tesla's lawsuit against Sterling Anderson, the nontechnical
program manager of Tesla's Autopilot semi-autonomous driving
system, accused Anderson of trying to recruit Tesla engineers
for his new venture, Aurora Innovation, before leaving the
It also claimed he downloaded some of Tesla's "competitively
sensitive" information to his laptop.
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 lawsuit underscored the fierce competition for talent in
Silicon Valley's self-driving car sector. Anderson was the
public face of Tesla's Autopilot system that allows for partial
self-driving, which Tesla eventually plans to develop into full
Tesla said in a statement that the settlement "establishes a
process to allow Tesla to recover all of the proprietary
information that was taken from the company" and that Aurora's
computers would be subject to audits to monitor for any use of
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 a statement, Aurora said no material Tesla confidential
information exists on its computer systems and "there is no
evidence that anyone at Aurora has used or has access to Tesla
It said it agreed to the $100,000 payment "to demonstrate
the integrity of Aurora's intellectual property."
Disputes over intellectual property in self-driving vehicle
technology gained attention in February, when Alphabet's
self-driving unit, Waymo, sued Uber Technologies Inc.
Waymo alleged that its former engineer Anthony Levandowski
downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files, including trade
secrets, before leaving to set up a rival company later acquired
by Uber. Uber - which Waymo claimed had profited from the stolen
files - has said none of the files can be found on its servers.
A federal judge is set to rule as early as next month on
whether to grant Waymo's request for a preliminary injunction to
prevent Uber from using the disputed documents.