Toyota-backed robotaxi unicorn sues ex-employees over commerce secrets and techniques – Thealike, a Chinese autonomous car firm valued at $8.5 billion as of late, has sued two former workers over alleged commerce secret infringement.

The lawsuit is arriving months after Frank (Zhenhao) Pan and Youhan Sun, two former technical leaders at Pony’s autonomous trucking enterprise within the U.S., resigned to begin a competitor referred to as Qingtian Truck.

China’s autonomous driving upstarts are underneath rising stress to commercialize as they attain later levels of fundraising. They are nonetheless years away from deploying driverless robotaxis on bustling city roads at scale, however easier eventualities reminiscent of shuttle buses and long-haul vans have introduced them with alternatives.

In 2020, Pony established a separate trucking division, which it branded PonyTron. Earlier this yr, it shaped a trucking joint venture with Sinotrans, a freight forwarding firm underneath the Chinese state-owned conglomerate China Merchants Group.

Pony filed the criticism with a courtroom in Beijing and is looking for damages of 60 million yuan ($8.9 million) from Qingtian. The Beijing Intellectual Property Court has accepted the case, Pony informed Thealike.

Qingtian mentioned in a statement that it has but to obtain any allegation doc and is verifying info relating to the case.

“Qingtian Truck has always adhered to the law, practiced business ethics, and insisted on independent R&D and innovation. We have not infringed upon any third-party trade secret,” the corporate mentioned.

IP dispute just isn’t unusual within the billion-dollar autonomous driving business that depends upon technological breakthroughs. Elon Musk for a very long time was at loggerheads with Xpeng, Tesla’s Chinese competitor. In 2019, Tesla filed a lawsuit in opposition to a former worker alleging that he had stolen commerce secrets and techniques associated to the agency’s Autopilot driver help function and introduced them to Xpeng. The case was dropped last year

Pan, former chief know-how officer for Pony’s trucking enterprise, and Sun, who beforehand led planning and management for the corporate’s trucking enterprise within the U.S., have been among the many senior workers who’ve left Pony over the previous yr to arrange their very own store.

Sun Haowen, former head of planning and management for Pony’s autonomous driving in China, additionally left to work on a brand new autonomous trucking enterprise.

Thealike’s sources and different media reviews instructed that workers have been disgruntled about Pony’s resolution to merge the R&D items of its trucking and passenger automobile companies, however Pony reasoned that the restructuring would result in extra environment friendly outcomes.

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