Now, it should be said that neither Tesla nor Apple has chose to go after Xpeng itself, instead focusing their efforts on the ex-employees that admitted to having made off with intellectual property. The information included more than 300,000 files and directories, including firmware, Autopilot, and neural network source code repositories.
Why it matters: Not for the first time, an employee from a large United States tech firm has been accused of stealing trade secrets and taking them to Chinese EV startup Xiaopeng Motors.
Cao's defense lawyers responded to the filing this week, by saying their client admits to uploading the material, but maintains that he "made extensive efforts to delete and/or remove any such Tesla files prior to his separation from Tesla".
Furthermore, Cao revealed that he got an offer from Xiaopeng Motors on December 12.
The filing suggests that Cao stole important documents previous year, deleted around 120,000 files in December, deleted proof of the theft (disconnected his iCloud and deleted browser history) and left Tesla on January 3. But that's exactly what a lawsuit being put forth by Tesla alleges that a former employee who's now working for Chinese company Xpeng and its US-based subsidiary XMotors.ai did, according to a report published Thursday by Bloomberg. Currently, he works as "Head of Perception" at the Chinese auto startup. On this occasion, the company in question is Tesla, and the data relates to its Autopilot feature.
While Tesla accuses Cao of poaching a Tesla employee to his new company, Cao denies the allegations.
Tesla, Cao, and Xiaopeng haven't provided any comments on the same.