ETHAN BARON News from Mercury

Tesla sued a former employee for allegedly stealing confidential information and trying to cover his tracks when confronted.

The company led by CEO Elon Musk hired Alexander Yatskov as a thermal engineer in January to work on cooling technology for the electric car maker’s artificial intelligence supercomputer, but it soon became clear that he wasn’t. was not up to the task, according to a lawsuit filed by Tesla against him.

“His business communications became erratic,” Tesla alleged in the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif. “He was repeatedly unable to perform the tasks for which he was hired and provided inconsistent responses when asked for explanations.”

It turned out, according to the lawsuit, that Yatskov had lied on his resume about his work history and skills.

Yatskov, who the suit says worked at Tesla’s offices in Fremont, Calif., where the company’s auto plant is located, could not be reached for comment.

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After Yatskov was found unable to do his job, company engineers discovered that he was taking confidential information from work devices and accounts, accessing it through his personal devices, and putting confidential details on the supercomputer. – nicknamed Dojo and used for projects such as self-driving – on his personal computer, according to the suit.

“When confronted by Tesla’s information security team, (Yatskov) eventually admitted that he downloaded confidential Tesla information from his Tesla accounts and devices onto his personal devices,” alleged the trial.

Tesla, which in December moved its headquarters from Palo Alto, Calif., to Austin, Texas, put Yatskov on administrative leave after he was repeatedly told not to use personal devices for work. related to the supercomputer, and he was asked to bring his personal devices for “forensic imaging,” the suit said.

Yatskov agreed to hand over his phone and personal laptop, but the laptop was not the one he used to take the confidential data, according to the suit.

Instead, it was a “dummy” device that no one had logged into since late 2020 – except for Yatskov, who logged in the very morning he gave it to Tesla. , when he “tried to add information to make the laptop look like he may have only accessed harmless Tesla information, like an offer letter, in the intended to deceive Tesla’s information security team,” the lawsuit alleged.

Yatskov resigned from Tesla, with his last day April 6, according to the lawsuit.

Tesla said in the lawsuit that he did not know how much confidential data Yatskov took, or whether he shared any of it. The former employee could derive “substantial benefit” from trade secrets, Tesla claimed.

The company is seeking unspecified damages and a court order requiring Yatskov to return any confidential information and identify anyone with whom he shared proprietary data.

A week before Tesla filed the lawsuit, Cupertino-based iPhone giant Apple sued a Mountain View startup that it said poached Apple employees who took away chip designs secrets when they come out.