Tesla files suit against former engineer for allegedly stealing Project Dojo’s secrets

Tesla has filed suit against former engineer Alexander Yatskov for allegedly stealing confidential information related to the company’s Project Dojo supercomputer, which the company will be using to train its self-driving neural networks. 

According to Tesla, Yatskov downloaded confidential and tightly guarded information about Dojo on his personal devices. What’s worse is that when Tesla found out about his actions, Yatskov reportedly tried to cover his tracks by surrendering a “dummy” computer instead, which contained none of the stolen information.

Yatskov began his tenure at Tesla as a thermal engineer in January, where he aided in the design of the Dojo supercomputer’s cooling systems. Tesla noted in its complaint that Yatskov had access to Dojo’s cooling information and other confidential information related to the neural net training supercomputer. 

Tesla stated that Yatskov had violated his non-disclosure agreement (NDA) by “removing Tesla confidential information from work devices and accounts, accessing it on his own personal devices, and creating Tesla documents containing confidential Project Dojo details on a personal computer.” The former engineer was reportedly caught sending emails with classified Tesla information from his personal email address to his work email. 

Tesla remarked that Yatskov actually admitted to storing classified information on his own devices when he was confronted by the company. He was placed on administrative leave starting April 6 and asked to bring in his devices so Tesla could recover any stolen information. Yatskov reportedly provided Tesla with a device, though the company noted that it was a “dummy” since it contained none of the stolen information. 

Yatskov formally resigned from Tesla on May 2. When asked for a comment by Bloomberg, the former Tesla engineer declined to provide a statement about the matter. Tesla, for its part, is looking to receive compensatory and exemplary damages. The company is also seeking to secure an order that would stop Yatskov from disseminating Dojo’s trade secrets.

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