Valeo Files Lawsuit Against Nvidia for Source Code Theft

Valeo Files Lawsuit Against Nvidia for Source Code Theft

A significant lawsuit arose after an employee accidentally showed the source code he allegedly stole from his former employer in a Microsoft Teams call.

Automotive technology company Valeo alleges that former employee Mohammad Moniruzzaman joined Nvidia after leaving the company and stole Valeo’s source codes. Valeo is now accusing Nvidia of benefiting from these stolen trade secrets.

Nvidia has made great efforts to enter the automotive market over the past decade. According to Valeo’s claim, Moniruzzaman downloaded “the entire source code for Valeo’s advanced parking and driving assistance systems” without permission in early 2021.

Before joining Nvidia, “Valeo created numerous Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDF files, and files describing various aspects of the technology.” He also downloaded the Excel worksheet.

This alleged theft was revealed at a March 2022 meeting where Nvidia and Valeo employees were working on a joint parking assistance project for an unnamed auto parts manufacturer.

Nvidia was awarded the contract to develop software for this project, while Valeo provided the ultrasonic sensor hardware.

“On March 8, 2022, one of these video conference meetings was scheduled. Mr. Moniruzzaman, now an Nvidia employee, joined the video conference call and shared his computer screen during the call.

However, when he minimized the PowerPoint presentation he shared, it revealed one of Valeo’s verbatim source code files open on his computer. Respondents at Valeo immediately recognized the source code and took screenshots before Mr. Moniruzzaman realized his mistake. “By then, it was too late to cover his tracks.”

The lawsuit states that when German police raided Mr. Moniruzzaman’s home as part of a criminal investigation, they discovered “Valeo documents and hardware attached to the walls in Mr. Moniruzzaman’s home office,” and that Valeo’s software and documents were found on the Nvidia computer seized by investigators. When questioned by German police, Moniruzzaman admitted to stealing Valeo’s software.

An Nvidia spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment and declined to comment to Bloomberg.

But a letter to Valeo’s lawyers from a law firm representing Nvidia claimed that the company “has no interest in Valeo’s code or alleged trade secrets and has taken prompt and concrete steps to protect your client’s alleged rights.”

Moniruzzaman told Nvidia that the source code was only stored locally on his laptop and was not shared with other Nvidia employees.

Bloomberg noted that Moniruzzaman was found guilty of violating Valeo’s business secrets in Germany in September and was fined 14,400 euros ($15,724).

But while Nvidia says it has no interest in using stolen code, Valeo claims its rival benefited from it anyway, saying it saved “millions of dollars in development costs.” If the code was integrated into Nvidia’s database after “extensive edits and feedback loops by other employees,” Valeo says it’s “unrealistic” to remove it altogether.

As a result, Valeo is seeking damages and an interdict to prevent Nvidia and its employees from using or sharing its trade secrets. The Register reports that a jury trial has yet to be announced.

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By Madi

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