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Former Tesla employee admits to uploading autopilot source code to his iCloud



Guangzhi Cao, a former Tesla engineer, admitted to court this week that he uploaded ZIP files with autopilot source code to his personal iCloud account at the end of 2018 while working for the company. Tesla sued Cao earlier this year for allegedly stealing autopilot trade secrets and forwarding them to Chinese EV startup Xiaopeng Motors, also known as Xmotors or XPeng, which is backed by technology giant Alibaba.

Cao declined to steal confidential information from the automaker in the same file. His lawyer team argued that he had "made extensive efforts to erase and / or remove such Tesla files before he separated from Tesla." Cao is now the "Perception Manager" at XPeng, where he independently develops "[d] and provides drive technologies for production vehicles," according to his LinkedIn profile.

Following a joint submission by the two parties filed this week, Tesla has summoned documents from Apple, but while Apple is not involved in this case, a former employee who worked on the secret, autonomous car project of the technology company was joined The FBI indicted the theft of trade secrets last July.

This employee allegedly placed confidential information on his wife's laptop and was also caught in the video surveillance as he left the Apple campus with a box of equipment abandoned his job at Apple to take a position at XPeng ei to take before he was arrested. Cao was also a senior visual scientist at Apple for two years before joining Tesla, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The lawsuit comes at a time when the US is involved in a trade war with China and has indicted the nation and some Tesla, Apple, XPeng and a lawyer from Cao did not respond to requests for comments.

In a statement to The Verge earlier this year, XPeng said that an internal investigation into Tesla's allegations was initiated and that "the intellectual property rights and confidential information of third parties are fully respected" in no way causes or attempts to induce Mr. Cao to dispose of Tesla's inappropriate trade secrets, confidential and proprietary information, whether such allegations of Tesla are true or not, "and it said," no alleged misconduct was known by Mr. Cao. " Cao. "

Tesla filed a lawsuit against Cao last March. The former employee was one of about 40 employees who had direct access to the source code of Autopilot, the advanced driver assistance system from Tesla. The company said Cao had begun by the end of last year to upload "full copies of the autopilot-related Tesla source code" into their personal iCloud account. Cao has compressed and postponed more than 300,000 Autopilot files and directories, according to the complaint.

By the end of 2018, Cao allegedly deleted 120,000 files from his work computer, disconnected his personal iCloud account and erased his browsing history across the Internet. At the same time, he took a job at XPeng, a China-based EV startup that makes cars, the Tesla look very similar. Tesla also claimed that Cao hired another autopilot associate for XPeng in February.

Cao admits he "used his personal iCloud account to make backup copies of certain Tesla information in 2018". He also admits that he created Zip files with autopilot source code at the end of 2018 and confirmed that XPeng had sent him an offer letter on December 12th. He says he "disconnected" his personal iCloud account from his Tesla-issued computer "on or about December 26," and continued to log into Tesla's networks between December 27 and January 1, 2019.

Cao does not state when he officially signs up to take the job at XPeng, Tesla says his last day was January 3rd. He also denies hiring staff of the autopilot team.

Cao "further acknowledges that he deleted certain files stored on his Tesla computer and deleted his web browsing history before he was separated from his employment with Tesla, but denies that any of these activities is any kind of" misconduct "represents" filing, although he does not agree with the number of files that Tesla allegedly stole. He also claims that he "made extensive efforts to delete and / or remove such Tesla files" before leaving Tesla, even though he does not say if he deleted all the files.

In the joint submission, Cao's lawyers argue that any source code or other confidential information left on their devices after they leave Tesla would only be there "accidentally". They also argue that Cao "did not access and did not use any of the & # 39; autopilot trade secrets" after leaving the company, nor did he transfer any information to XPeng.

According to the joint application Cao Tesla has already given a "subset of his electronic devices or digital images of such devices" and access to his Gmail account for forensic analysis already running. "XPeng also has" voluntarily provided a digital image of the [Cao’s] working laptop for Tesla

"This is a lawsuit for routine off-boarding issues from employees who could and should have been resolved by Tesla either through its own personnel or information technology policies," writing Cao's lawyers in the joint file vague hints in Tesla's complaint (and the above presentation of the facts) that his trade secrets are in danger That Tesla needs to know what Cao did with Tesla's intellectual property is the truth in this case that Cao did nothing exactly with Tesla's IP. Prior to leaving Tesla, Cao diligently and seriously sought to remove all intellectual property and source code from Tesla on his own devices. "


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