Tesla is suing former engineer Alexander Yatskov for stealing “confidential and closely guarded” information related to the company’s supercomputer technology, dubbed Project Dojo, as first reported by Tesla. Bloomberg† In a copy of the complaint, Tesla accuses Yatskov of downloading the information to his personal devices and refusing to return it.
Yatskov, who claims Tesla lied on his resume about his work history and skills, began working for the electric vehicle manufacturer in January as a thermal engineer, helping design Dojo’s refrigeration systems. Dojo is Tesla’s neural network training computer that processes large amounts of data used to train the AI software in Tesla’s self-driving cars. According to the complaint, Yatskov had access to Dojo’s refrigeration information, as well as other confidential information related to the project.
Tesla says all technicians sign a nondisclosure agreement that prevents them from disclosing or storing confidential information about Dojo, which Tesla claims was violated by Yatskov by “removing Tesla confidential information from work devices and accounts and accessing it on his own personal devices.” … and creating Tesla documents with confidential Project Dojo data on a PC.” The company also says it discovered that Yatskov was sending emails containing classified Tesla information from his personal email address to his work email address.
As noted in the complaint, Tesla alleges that Yatskov admitted to storing classified information on his personal devices when the company confronted him about the situation. The EV maker then put Yatskov on administrative leave from April 6, 2022, asking him to bring in his devices so Tesla could recover stolen information. Yatskov responded by allegedly providing Tesla with a “dummy” laptop in an effort to hide any evidence against him. This alleged decoy did not contain any of the information in question and was made to “look like he only had access to harmless Tesla information, such as an offer letter.”
Yatskov resigned from his position on May 2. Tesla is suing Yatskov for compensatory and exemplary damages, as well as seeking a court order that would force Yatskov to return the classified information.