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Tesla, Rivian get deadlines from judge in stagnant trade secret lawsuit

(Credit: Tesla, Rivian)

Tesla has been given thirty days to produce documents relevant to a lawsuit it filed against Rivian Automotive in July 2020, as the nearly stagnated lawsuit has been given deadlines for new developments by Judge Peter Manoukian. Rivian will then have 30 days to respond to Tesla’s requests regarding pretrial information sharing.

In July 2020, Tesla sued Rivian, claiming that the automaker was poaching former Tesla employees, as well as stealing highly-sensitive information that employees may have taken with them to Rivian after leaving Tesla. Tesla filed the complaint in the San Jose, California State Court, stating that “Misappropriating Tesla’s competitively useful confidential information when leaving Tesla for a new employer is obviously wrong and risky.”

Rivian denied involvement and stated that employees are required to confirm “that they have not, and will not, introduce former employers’ intellectual property into Rivian systems.”

Tesla’s Elon Musk talks Rivian lawsuit, “They’re doing bad things, so we sued them”

Rivian pushed back, requesting the Judge throw out the trial. “Tesla did not file this case to defend or protect any legitimate intellectual property rights. Tesla sued in an improper and malicious attempt to slow down Rivian’s momentum and attempt to damage Rivian’s brand. And it sued in an abusive attempt to scare employees thinking about leaving Tesla. While Tesla itself recruits employees from other automotive and technology companies, it cries foul to Rivian, which competes, fairly, for this same automotive and technology talent,” Rivian said in a rebuttal.

Over two years later, Judge Peter Manoukian is now giving Tesla 30 days to produce any documents it claims were stolen by employees who left Tesla for Rivian, a report from Bloomberg is now suggesting. Following the closure of Tesla’s 30-day period, Rivian will then have 30 days to respond to Tesla’s requests for pretrial information sharing, which includes details on what steps Rivian took to investigate Tesla’s claims of information or trade secret theft.

Judge Manoukian said the deadlines for both sides are important because they will bring “the best resolution for this important and interesting matter.”

Tesla had another lawsuit nudged forward by a Judge in October. Judge James Donato imposed a deadline for Nikola Motor, stating that a case involving design patents was not closed but was determined to be “administratively closed,” meaning it is of low importance to the court and could be removed from the Judge’s workload. “A technology tutorial is set for January 13, 2022. The claim construction hearing is set for January 27, 2022. The case will remain administratively closed pending further order,” Judge Donato wrote.\

Nikola responded to the ruling with excuses for why it had not presented any new evidence in the case, which Judge Donato called “ostensible” “and “not particularly compelling.” Nikola filed the lawsuit in 2018 and claims that Tesla stole several design patents that would have cost the company of $2 billion in market share. Tesla has stated that there is “no merit” to the claims

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Tesla, Rivian get deadlines from judge in stagnant trade secret lawsuit
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