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Tesla settles with ex-employee over Autopilot code theft accusations

Engadget logo Engadget 4/16/2021 Steve Dent
a car parked in a parking lot

Tesla has settled with a former employee that it sued for downloading data related to its Autopilot feature, Reuters has reported. Tesla filed the lawsuit against Cao Guangzhi back in 2019, accusing its former engineer of copying data to an iCloud account and taking it to his new employer, China's XMotors (owned by Xpeng). 

Cao reportedly made a monetary payment to Tesla as part of the terms of settlement, but the amount and other details were not disclosed. Cao's legal representative confirmed the settlement, saying he never provided Tesla information to XMotors or any other company. XMotors was not a party in the case, and said it developed its own self-driving technology in-house and respected intellectual property rights. 

In its original filing, Tesla said that its Autopilot feature was the "crown jewel of Tesla's intellectual property portfolio." The company recently released its Full Self-Driving update, offering new features like automatic lane-changing, auto-parking, summon and more. An NTSB board recently said in a series of tweets that the Full Self-Driving name was "deceptive," as it's "not true... that the vehicle can drive itself right now." 

a car parked in a parking lot: NEW YORK, NY - JULY 05: A Tesla model S sits parked outside of a new Tesla showroom and service center in Red Hook, Brooklyn on July 5, 2016 in New York City. The electric car company and its CEO and founder Elon Musk have come under increasing scrutiny following a crash of one of its electric cars while using the controversial autopilot service. Joshua Brown crashed and died in Florida on May 7 in a Tesla car that was operating on autopilot, which means that Brown's hands were not on the steering wheel. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) NEW YORK, NY - JULY 05: A Tesla model S sits parked outside of a new Tesla showroom and service center in Red Hook, Brooklyn on July 5, 2016 in New York City. The electric car company and its CEO and founder Elon Musk have come under increasing scrutiny following a crash of one of its electric cars while using the controversial autopilot service. Joshua Brown crashed and died in Florida on May 7 in a Tesla car that was operating on autopilot, which means that Brown's hands were not on the steering wheel. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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