Tesla is suing its former Autopilot director for allegedly stealing data and using it for his own self-driving car venture (TSLA)

Elon Musk

Tesla Motors is suing its former Autopilot director, Sterling Anderson, for allegedly stealing information to use for a competing venture, according to a lawsuit filed at the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara on Thursday.

According to the lawsuit, Anderson partnered with Chris Urmson, the former head of Google’s self-driving car project, to launch a competing venture called Aurora Innovation.

The lawsuit alleges that Anderson, who served as the director of Tesla’s Autopilot programs from November 2015 until December 2016, violated his contract by attempting to recruit at least a dozen Tesla engineers to work for the planned venture while he was still employed at Tesla.

The lawsuit also alleges Anderson downloaded “hundreds of gigabytes of data,” including sensitive company information, that he did not return upon his termination.

It also claims Anderson took his Tesla laptop to Urmson’s home and accessed a document titled “Recruiting targets.” 

Anderson, Urmson, and Aurora Innovation are all listed as defendants in the case that seeks a jury trial to resolve the matter.

“Tesla’s meritless lawsuit reveals both a startling paranoia and an unhealthy fear of competition,” Aurora wrote in a statement to Business Insider. “This abuse of the legal system is a malicious attempt to stifle a competitor and destroy personal reputations. Aurora looks forward to disproving these false allegations in court and to building a successful self-driving business.”

Tesla declined to comment for this story. Anderson and Urmson did not immediately return Business Insider’s requests for comment.

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