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Former Tesla employee admits to downloading autopilot source code on his iCloud

Guangzhi Cao, a former engineer at Tesla, admitted in court this week that he had downloaded zip files containing the Autopilot source code on his iCloud personal account by the end of 2018 while he was still working for the society. Tesla sued Cao earlier this year for allegedly stealing autopilot trade secrets and presenting them to Chinese start-up EV, Xiaopeng Motors, also known as Xmotors or XPeng, backed by technology giant Alibaba .

Cao denied having stolen sensitive information from the manufacturer in the same file. His legal team stated that he had "made considerable efforts to remove and / or delete any such file before separating from Tesla." Cao is now the "perception manager" at XPeng, where he finds himself "[d]development and supply of autonomous driving technologies for production cars ", according to his LinkedIn profile.

According to a joint file of the two parties that was also filed this week, Tesla has filed documents to appear to Apple. Although Apple is not involved in this case, a former employee who worked on the secret technology company's secret car project was accused by the FBI of stealing trade secrets last July.

This Air employee reportedly sent sensitive data to his wife's cell phone and was also filmed under video surveillance when he left the Apple campus with a box of equipment. He had quit his job at Apple to hold a position at XPeng before being arrested. According to his LinkedIn profile, Cao was also an imaging expert at Apple for two years before joining Tesla.

The lawsuit comes at a time when the United States is engaged in a trade war with China and has accused the country and some of its largest corporations of alleged "economic espionage". Tesla, Apple, XPeng and Cao's lawyer have not responded to requests for comment.

In a statement to The edge Earlier this year, XPeng said it had opened an internal investigation into Tesla's allegations, claiming that it "fully respects the intellectual property rights and confidential information of third parties." XPeng said that "nothing could cause or attempt to mislead Mr. Cao trade secrets, confidential and confidential information of Tesla, that such allegations of Tesla are true or not," said that "was aware no alleged misconduct of Mr. Cao ".

Tesla filed a lawsuit against Cao last March. The former employee was among about 40 people with direct access to the Autoclilot source code, Tesla's advanced driver assistance system. The company said Cao had begun downloading "full copies of the Tesla autopilot source code" into his personal iCloud account at the end of last year. Cao has compressed and moved more than 300,000 files and directories related to autopilot, according to the complaint.

By the end of 2018, Cao would have deleted 120,000 files from his work computer, logged off his personal iCloud account and deleted his browser's history throughout the same period he had accepted a position at XPeng, an EV startup based on in China, which gives very similar to Tesla. Tesla also claimed that Cao had recruited another autopilot employee for XPeng in February.

Cao admits that he "used his personal iCloud account to create backup copies of some of Tesla's information in 2018" in the new court record. He also admits to having created zip files containing Autopilot source code late 2018 and confirmed that XPeng had sent him an offer letter on December 12th. He says he disconnected his personal iCloud account from his Tesla computer on or about December 26, and continued to connect to Tesla's networks between December 27 and January 1, 2019.

While Cao does not say when he officially accepted the job at XPeng, Tesla said his last day was January 3rd. He also denies the poaching of employees of the autopilot team.

Cao "further admits that he deleted some files stored on his Tesla computer and erased the history of his Web browser before he left his job at Tesla, but denies that the one of these activities constitutes a kind of "fault", according to the record, he does not agree with the number of files Tesla alleged to have stolen. delete and / or delete any such Tesla file from his iCloud personal account before leaving Tesla, although he does not specify whether he deleted any files.

In the joint filing, Cao's lawyers argue that any source code or other confidential information remaining on his devices after his departure from Tesla would only be "inadvertently". They also argue that Cao "did not consult and did not use anything" autopilot trade secrets "" after leaving the company, nor transferred any information to XPeng.

According to the joint filing, Cao has already given Tesla a "subset of his electronic devices or digital images of these devices" and access to his Gmail account for forensic analysis, which is already underway . XPeng also "voluntarily produced a digital image of Tesla [Cao’s] laptop working. "

"This is a lawsuit regarding common employee disengagement issues that Tesla could and should have solved, either through its own human resources or information technology policies." write Cao's lawyers. "Despite vague insinuations in Tesla's complaint (and in his recitation of the" facts "above) that his trade secrets are" in danger "and that Tesla must learn what Cao did with Tesla's intellectual property "The truth of this case is that Cao did nothing with Tesla's intellectual property. Prior to his departure from Tesla, Cao attempted diligently and diligently to remove all intellectual property and Tesla source code from its own devices. "

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