A judge has issued a ruling.
It all began last summer when Tesla sued rival Rivian for allegedly poaching employees and stealing trade secrets. Rivian denied any wrongdoing and immediately requested the suit's dismissal. That request has now been denied. Bloomberg reports that Santa Clara, California Superior Court Judge William Monahan, in a tentative ruling, has declined Rivian's request regarding misappropriation of trade secrets, but did grant the request to dismiss intentional interference in contract claim.
However, the judge refused to dismiss Tesla's claims against seven former employees who jumped ship to Rivian. Tesla is accusing them of revealing trade secrets in direct violation of their confidentiality agreements.
Tesla claims Rivian has hired at least 178 former employees (70 of whom came directly from Tesla to Rivian), but Rivian claims it has "rigorous policies and procedures to make sure it does not obtain confidential information from other companies when on-boarding employees." Rivian further double-downed in its defense that none of the alleged stolen trade secrets are in its possession.
Tesla, Rivian claims, lacks any hard proof of intellectual property theft and is merely speculating because it poached now-former Tesla employees. The California-based automaker is attempting to kill competition, Rivian firmly believes. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, however, has gone on record on more than one occasion welcoming new electric vehicle competitors, such as Volkswagen and General Motors.
But unlike Tesla, Rivian is so far only focusing on battery-electric trucks and SUVs. Rivian R1T and R1S deliveries are set to get underway this summer. Tesla will soon have a complete EV lineup once Cybertruck production begins sometime later this year. It's possible the companies will reach a settlement over the matter, or, alternatively, Tesla will refuse that approach in order to make an example out of Rivian as a warning to other companies.
This is not the first time Tesla has taken legal action against former employees regarding the alleged theft of trade secrets. Some of these individuals went to rival automakers, such as China's Xpeng Motors, or Zoox, an autonomous vehicle company located in Silicon Valley.