Baidu sues its former SVP for stealing self-driving trade secrets and using them in his US-based startup

Baidu is suing its former senior vice-president (SVP) for RMB 50 million for stealing its autonomous driving trade secrets and using them to fuel its new venture which is now Baidu’s direct competitor in the self-driving field. Wang Jin was previously posted as the general manager of Baidu’s autonomous driving unit and many of Baidu’s achievements in this field were made during his tenure.

Aside from the RMB 50 million compensation, Baidu has requested that Wang stops using Baidu’s self-driving commercial secrets in competing against them, NetEase has reported (in Chinese). The company is saying that Wang Jin agreed to a non-compete clause and obliged himself to confidentiality in his contract.

Baidu has confirmed the news for TechNode saying that the case is currently in judicial process. The case has been brought up in front of Beijing’s Intellectual Property court, according to media.

Wang Jin is currently the CEO of JingChi which defines itself as a mobility company powered by artificial intelligence. The US-based firm is developing projects such as high definition maps for autonomous driving, using LiDAR data for perceiving objects around the vehicle, and deep learning-powered perception of driving environment. Jingchi Corp. is in another lawsuit with Chinese ride-hailing platform Ucar since earlier this year for the same matter. The company hired four former employees of the firm.

Wang Jin left Baidu to start his own company in April 2017, not long after the Baidu’s AI expert Andrew Ng handed in his resignation. Wang also played a part in Baidu investment in leading laser radar manufacturer Velodyne. Since joining Baidu in 2010 he worked on Baidu’s big data engine and Baidu Brain.