Nvidia accused of stealing trade secrets from car company Valeo
Nvidia temporarily hired a former employee from automotive technology company Valeo Schalter und Sensoren in 2021, and is now in legal trouble due to a lawsuit from the company. Namely, the aforementioned employee, Muhamed Moniruzaman, copied a large number of Valeo files before leaving Valeo, including the source code for the parking application with the help of artificial intelligence and other confidential documents. He was later convicted because of this, and this is precisely the reason why Nvidia is now accused of stealing business secrets, because Moniruzaman allegedly gave them to this technology giant.
The alleged offender accidentally showed the stolen files during a video call with Nvidia and Valeo, which others quickly documented with screenshots. During the call, Moniruzaman gave a presentation and shared his screen so that other participants could follow along. However, after the presentation ended, he did not stop sharing the screen, which was probably accidental, and when he closed the presentation window, he inadvertently revealed one that showed the Valeo software source code and the name “ValeoDocs”.
When his former colleagues saw the source code, they immediately recognized it and took a screenshot for proof. Valeo then investigated the activities of its former employee and discovered that he had copied source code and other confidential files. In 2022, Germany launched a criminal investigation against him, and the case seemingly ended with his conviction in September.
However, now that the former employee has been criminally convicted, Valeo is also seeking justice from Nvidia, writes Tom’s Hardware.
Although you may not have heard of Valeo, it is actually a long-standing company based in Paris that has been in the high-tech automotive business for several decades. Both Valeo and Nvidia have been hired by an unnamed automaker to develop parking assistance software.
In its lawsuit, Valeo describes itself as an established company in the automotive industry, while Nvidia is only “a recent player in this industry with insufficient experience in making parking assistance technology.” What Valeo is actually implying is that Nvidia, as a newcomer to the auto industry, cannot build such sophisticated software.
Valeo alleges that Moniruzaman, now a convicted felon, shared trade secrets with Nvidia, including source code, spreadsheets and other documents crucial to understanding Valeo’s parking assistance technology.
Nvidia has not commented on the lawsuit, but its lawyers sent a letter to Valeo last year explaining that Nvidia did not know Moniruzaman had stolen anything confidential until he was already under investigation. The lawyers also claim that Nvidia has “no interest” in the Valeo code and that the company has fully cooperated with the investigation.
This is not the first time that Nvidia has been accused of illegal use of intellectual property. A similar thing happened in 2019 due to the alleged violation of semiconductor patents of Xerpi Corp. However, the court proceedings in this case are still ongoing, so Nvidia still does not have the title of “repeat offender”, at least not yet.