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Tesla Settles Lawsuit With Ex-Employee Over Autopilot Source Code | The Motley Fool

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) is moving past a legal dispute it got into with one of its former engineers. The company settled a lawsuit it brought in 2019 against Cao Guangzhi, accusing him of copying the source code of its Autopilot assisted driving software platform. Tesla had alleged Cao had done so before joining XMotors, the U.S. business of China-based autonomous-driving company Xpeng (NYSE:XPEV).

Under the terms of the settlement, Cao will financially compensate Tesla for his actions. The precise amount has not been disclosed.

Autopilot is a high-profile feature in Tesla automobiles. Although the name implies an autonomous driving system, Autopilot is actually a set of assisted-driving solutions including next-generation cruise control and parking assist. The company has intimated that, in time, Autopilot will include self-driving functionalities.

Image source: Tesla Motors.

Tesla has not commented on its settlement with Cao. The former employee’s legal representative, in a statement sent to Reuters, claimed that Cao did not provide any Tesla data to Xpeng or any other entity. In addition, said the representative, Cao didn’t personally access any of Tesla’s information.

The news agency added that XMotors “said it respected intellectual property rights and relied on its in-house developed proprietary R&D and intellectual property.” XMotors was not a party in the lawsuit brought by Tesla. Cao is no longer employed at the Chinese company.

Although this can’t be considered a major legal issue — and therefore big victory — for Tesla, it is an encouraging sign that the company is ready and able to vigorously defend its business. Autopilot is an attractive feature that helps draw customers, and as such it’s worth protecting.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.


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