Here We Go Again: Tesla Sues Former Employee for IP Theft

This is not the first time when a former employee is accused of stealing sensitive intellectual property (IP) data. We covered the previous issue when a senior software quality assurance engineer allegedly stole 26 000 confidential documents. The engineer simply downloaded the data on his personal Dropbox. It is not yet clear whether he did it to sell the data or was it all just a huge misunderstanding. 

And just in the beginning of this May Tesla launched another lawsuit claiming that a former thermal engineer illegally transferred confidential information on the company’s new supercomputer technology. The company believes that to cover his tracks the engineer handed over a “dummy” laptop for inspection. 

Do supercomputers dream of better protection?

Tesla is aiming to deal with huge amounts of data they have to process by developing a new supercomputer dubbed “Project Dojo”. It will be used to analyze videos from Tesla cars and create autonomous driving software. The machine generates a lot of heat, and the thermal engineer against whom the company filed a lawsuit was hired in January to help design cooling systems for it. 

The designs and data are confidential and highly sensitive for Tesla, as the carmaker stated in their complaint. The engineer quit the company on May 2, denying all accusations. 

Tesla also accused him of breaking a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and lying in his resume about his expertise and job experience. 

The company said in its lawsuit: “Access to the Tesla Trade Secrets would enable engineers at other companies to reverse-engineer Tesla’s Trade Secrets to create similar supercomputer thermal systems in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the expense it took Tesla to build it.”
This is not the first time when Tesla’s former employees or rival companies end up in court. 

In March 2019, the company sued people who used to work there for stealing confidential information. In March 2020 Tesla sued a competitor, Rivian, saying that its employees also stole trade secrets. A similar case happened to Tesla’s former process technician who now owes $400 000 to it for divulging trade secrets.

How can you protect your data even if it leaked?

In the situation like this, a company needs a solution that would help determine the files as the company’s IP. This may serve as a deterrent, making people think about whether they really want to risk downloading anything that could easily be traced back to the owner. 

CADChain employed blockchain technology to develop a state-of-the-art solution named BORIS to ensure end-to-end IP protection of CAD files. 

It digitally signs 3d models by linking the owner’s ID to them, securing this information on blockchain. This means, that even if your files are leaked, you can always prove ownership over them, as only you possess the unique master key to your ID.

BORIS accompanies CAD files throughout their lifetime registering all useful events, starting from creation, giving the IP owners full control over their sensitive files.

What BORIS does to secure your files

Step one is identity verification to assure the identity of entities and individuals you are sharing data with, guaranteeing that anyone reviewing your file has been verified, even if that person is an external collaborator.

Step two is encryption, security, and tracking. From within the CAD software, the files can be protected by state-of-the-art encryption and tracked when shared through our plugin. Blockchain makes it possible to timestamp all files entering it, thus allowing you to know who (and when) created, uploaded, downloaded, or accessed the file. 

Step three is a legal failsafe. The legal component of BORIS ensures an enforceable contract (NDA or licensing agreement) for every shared file and will protect you even against malicious users. This feature utilizes smart legal contracts to further improve the safety of your files. The contracts work on the “if…then…” pieces of code integrated into blockchain, only executing actions when certain conditions are met. 

This is a great solution when it comes to signing NDAs, which would be virtually indestructible, as they are protected with blockchain technology.