Self-Driving Car Secrets, Theft, China and Shadow Companies Feature in Federal Court Hearing in San Jose, CA

As companies jockey for position in the race to be the first to bring a fully capable autonomous-vehicle software program to market, two contestants battled it out in San Jose federal court on Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila presided over a hearing on a preliminary injunction request that featured allegations of software theft, engineers absconding to China with downloaded hard drives, shadow companies, alter egos and puppet CEOs.

At the center of the case is WeRide Corp., a Silicon Valley-based startup attempting to build software capable of allowing vehicles to drive themselves.

WeRide sued Ken Huang, its former director of hardware development, saying he downloaded copious amounts of proprietary information – including vital software code – just days before he unceremonious quit his job and joined a nebulous network of companies formed in China.