Tesla, Rivian in court over trade secrets

Blue Boy

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Hey!
I am a prospective EV pickup truck buyer, who fell in love with the Cybertruck before discovering the R1T. While the Cybertruck would be an amazing vehicle for me, I am old fashioned with how I like my vehicles to look. Therefore upon finding the R1T I have made it my goal to purchase it over the Cybertruck. I should say that I am not making a set decision until I see the final prices, options etc.. of the vehicles

Doing research about the companies has shown me that Rivian may be taking IP from Tesla, by poaching employees. The main accusations that caught my attention were that Rivian may be stealing some information with regards to the manufacturing process, in order to bring their vehicles to market.

My questions to these forums is: if there is truth behind these allegations, would you have a problem supporting the company?

I personally only want to see the increased production of EV's so one day when I have kids their world isn't a smog covered wasteland. It seems that Tesla fans are really rooting against all other EV manufacturers, which doesn't sit well with me as the overall goal is to create healthy competition and a more sustainable future. I am worried that capitalism may be getting in the way of a healthier earth, as well as a better EV market for consumers. Would love to hear this comunities thoughts!
Thanks!
 

jjwolf120

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Doing research about the companies has shown me that Rivian may be taking IP from Tesla, by poaching employees. The main accusations that caught my attention were that Rivian may be stealing some information with regards to the manufacturing process, in order to bring their vehicles to market.
I don't remember seeing much about stealing IP. The main accusation was stealing information about compensation packages in order to entice more Tesla employees to jump ship. The truth of the matter is not evident. Tesla made accusations against their employees and said they had proof, at least of their employees taking proprietary information. They also alleged that Rivian was encouraging said employees to take proprietary information. Rivian denied any wrong doing and filed a motion to dismiss the claim. No ruling has been made to my knowledge.
 

DucRider

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Tesla sends mixed messages about what they consider proprietary. They have pledged to make all of their patents available for anyone to use free of charge:
https://www.tesla.com/about/legal#patent-pledge

The "IP" accusations are related to HR issues and not technology. Specifically, "recruiting templates, structures, formulas, or documents". I don't know that Tesla has a particular advantage in that area over other firms like Apple, Google, etc. There is some speculation that due to California laws that heavily restrict non-compete contracts, suing four former employees along with Rivian was really meant to discourage current employees from leaving (to Rivian or anyone else). Many of the former Tesla employees now at Rivian have not made a direct move, but were employed elsewhere in between.
 

OldEVGuy

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electruck

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My questions to these forums is: if there is truth behind these allegations, would you have a problem supporting the company?
No. There is absolutely nothing going on at Rivian, actual or alleged, that concerns me enough to prevent me from buying their products.

How about you? Are you willing to purchase a BEV from any company knowing there is a dependence on cobalt mined in the Congo where there are concerns of illegal mining, human rights abuses and corruption? Or buy an ICE vehicle knowing their environmental impact? Not an exhaustive list but hopefully enough to make my point.

We would all like to think that we would only support ethical companies building environmentally friendly products but the truth is we look the other way more than we would care to admit. For me, the key is striving for continual improvement - we can't solve all the world's problems over night. I would only boycott a company if there was clear evidence that they were a much bigger "offender" than any other company.
 

Blue Boy

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No. There is absolutely nothing going on at Rivian, actual or alleged, that concerns me enough to prevent me from buying their products.

How about you? Are you willing to purchase a BEV from any company knowing there is a dependence on cobalt mined in the Congo where there are concerns of illegal mining, human rights abuses and corruption? Or buy an ICE vehicle knowing their environmental impact? Not an exhaustive list but hopefully enough to make my point.

We would all like to think that we would only support ethical companies building environmentally friendly products but the truth is we look the other way more than we would care to admit. For me, the key is striving for continual improvement - we can't solve all the world's problems over night. I would only boycott a company if there was clear evidence that they were a much bigger "offender" than any other company.
Great point!

I've had a few conversations with my university colleagues about how electric vehicles are actually as harmful as ICE vehicles, when you factor in the mining. I am happy to invest into this technology though, because once the lithium and cobalt is mined there is a continuing life cycle of the material. Obviously this is non-existent with ICE vehicles. As well we are likely to see the fazing out of cobalt, with the news from Tesla on battery day.

As for human rights allegations, I am hopeful the future will help those exploited. And I agree, I can't solve the problem, but as we solve more of the world's problems we can expand to help people who are being exploited.

Overall I am willing to support a BEV company at this time, simply because it promotes creating a healthier future.

Thanks for your thoughts!
 

thrill

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...Doing research about the companies has shown me that Rivian may be taking IP from Tesla, by poaching employees. The main accusations that caught my attention were that Rivian may be stealing some information with regards to the manufacturing process, in order to bring their vehicles to market.

My questions to these forums is: if there is truth behind these allegations, would you have a problem supporting the company?...
IANAL, but I've been involved in gathering and testifying about evidence of financial crimes in criminal suits resulting in multi-year jail sentences for the guilty party, so I've read a few filings.

If you're not familiar with reading court filings, then the (amended) filing by Tesla against several former employees and Rivian viewable at https://www.plainsite.org/dockets/download.html?id=292193984&z=073dcf55 may sound damning, but you need to read any such claims with a large dose of "show me some proof". For example, just picking one, in paragraph 68 there several statements about a Ms. Bero who Tesla claims took several documents they state are confidential. Per the filing, Tesla states they showed her several documents that supposedly Tesla has proof of the network traffic in her emailing them to her gmail account, and yet(!), she explicitly denies taking them. Of important note, they do not claim to have shown her the network traffic, only that it exists, nor do they claim to have gained access to her gmail account to verify their reading of that network traffic (I'm quite familiar with such network traffic records and I've seen senior people get totally reamed out only for there to eventually be a realization once proper engineers got involved that it was not originally interpreted correctly). Regardless, Tesla then claims that "Rivian has acquired the Tesla confidential information taken by Bero." They then go on to say Rivian had only talked to one former Tesla employee, whose name is conveniently (or sloppily) unmentioned in the filing, and that this employee acknowledged taking documents but said they had been deleted. Tesla then wants to denigrate the Rivian counsel for a "cavalier attitude". Here's the thing - Rivian is under no obligation to Tesla to investigate anything - that is Tesla's job. But Tesla wants to claim Rivian's lack of effort here is somehow equivalent to an acknowledgement of Rivian instigated malfeasance. The entire filing is chock full of such leaps of faith, and Rivian seems quite right in their request for dismissal to the court that 2 of the the 3 allegations are simply false and that there is no evidence presented by Tesla that the 3rd is true.

In a civil case, just like in a criminal case, the burden of proof is on the claimant, and most explicitly not on the defendant. Rivian's "cavalier" attitude about not further confronting *their* employees doesn't mean diddly.

Maybe the question should be if you will still be enamored with Tesla if the case is dismissed for lack of evidence?
 

Coast2Coast

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Apropos of your initial post, it's unlikely there's much in Tesla's manufacturing process that Rivian would want to copy. Initially, Tesla tried to establish an all-robot manufacturing line but that failed. Then Tesla brought back people into production and ironed out many of its manufacturing issues, during a well publicized period of "production hell", but it still experiences high levels of rework, poor fit, finish and reliability.

As others mentioned, the allegations were more in the area of HR than manufacturing, reflecting relatively high levels of turnover in personnel at all levels at Tesla. Some of those find their ways to Rivian, and since Rivian announced an expansion of its engineering and customer relations teams in Irvine, California, increased hiring of former Tesla folks already in California is to be expected.
 

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