Tesla Sues ex-Employee for Allegedly Stealing 26,000 Confidential Files

Andrew Cummings
January 26, 2021

Tesla has sued a former employee for allegedly stealing about 26,000 confidential files in his first week of working at the company, according to a court filing seen by AFP.

Tesla Inc. former software engineer was ordered to present before a judge to face allegations that three days into his job that man has started stealing important files and transforming them into a personal storage account.

Tesla alleges that Khatilov started downloading the files from Tesla's networks and moved them to his Dropbox just three days after he started his job as a senior software quality assurance engineer on December 28.

Tesla is suing Khaitov, accusing him of stealing trade secrets and confidential information, along with breaching his contract.

Khatilov said he had not shared the files with anyone or sent them anywhere. Last April, Zoox settled with Tesla for an undisclosed sum and admitted that "certain of its new hires from Tesla" were in possession of internal Tesla documents.

Days later, Khatilov said he showed Tesla the information in his Dropbox when security asked, and deleted the data at the company's request.

Khatilov was surprised and also upset by Tesla's lawsuit.

In March 2020, Tesla sued Rivian, a company competitor, stating that its employees also stole trade secrets.

"Access to these scripts would enable engineers at other companies to reverse engineer Tesla's processes to create a similar system in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the expense", the company said. The company fired Khatilov on January 6. He used his personal Dropbox account to move the documents. He said he transferred it to his personal Dropbox cloud account to use later on his personal computer. Tesla stated that he accessed files that were not related to his job, and he lied about his theft then tried to remove all the evidence of what he'd done. Tesla says the scripts he downloaded "had nothing to do with his responsibilities".

"Nobody told me using Dropbox is prohibited", Khatilov said.

But in an exclusive interview with The Post, Khatilov insisted the software files ended up in his Dropbox by mistake - and that he certainly had no plans to steal the files or give them to someone else.

Investigators for Tesla were able to remotely view Khatilov's Dropbox account and with his cooperation deleted all Tesla files that remained.

Khatilov, who told the New York Post that he was unaware he was being sued until the newspaper called him on Friday, was sacked the same day.

According to Tesla, after investigators found thousands of confidential files in Khatilov's personal storage, the engineer said he forgot about them and tried to destroy the data at the start of the interview. He didn't even know that Tesla had filed a lawsuit against him until the Post reached out to him.

The company is seeking a jury trial and damages.

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