Tesla Sues Employee for Data Theft, Media Statements

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 20, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Tesla employee Martin Tripp was not happy about his job reassignment.

So he retaliated by badmouthing the company and stealing confidential information, according to a new lawsuit. Tesla alleges Tripp took "gigabytes of Tesla data" and dozens of photographs and video of proprietary manufacturing systems.

In the meantime, CEO Elon Musk was dealing with reports about delayed production of its Model 3. He said it had been sabotaged, but now there's no telling what really happened.

Gigabytes of Data

Tesla attorneys filed suit against Tripp in federal court in Nevada. They said Tripp admitted his wrongdoing, but they have not sorted it all out yet.

"Tesla has only begun to understand the full scope of Tripp's illegal activity, but he has thus far admitted to writing software that hacked Tesla's manufacturing operating system ("MOS") and to transferring several gigabytes of Tesla data to outside entities," the complaint says.

Tripp initially denied the allegations, but the company said he later confessed. Tesla said he also tried to "recruit additional sources" inside the company.

The complaint does not name the "outside entities" that received the Tesla data, but it says Tripp talked to the media about problems at Tesla before the lawsuit was filed.

Business Insider?

Two weeks earlier, Business Insider published an article about corporate waste and punctured batteries being used in Tesla vehicles. Apparently, Tripp was the source for that story.

Tesla, in its lawsuit, said the claims were false. The company also said Tripp "falsely claimed that Tesla was delayed in bringing new manufacturing equipment online."

The lawsuit says Tripp was a disgruntled employee because he was reassigned after performance problems and disrupting other employees. Tesla said he retaliated by "stealing confidential and trade secret information" and by making false statements about the company.

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