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November 2019: Preliminary Injunction Victory for Autonomous Vehicle and Artificial Intelligence Practice

November 2019

The firm obtained a second preliminary injunction for autonomous vehicle start-up WeRide in trade secret litigation in the Northern District of California against two former employees and their new company, AllRide.  A little over a year ago, WeRide fired its then-CEO (Jing Wang) and its then-VP of hardware engineering (Kun Huang) for assorted wrongdoing.  Shortly after, WeRide began to see media reports tying both Wang and Huang to AllRide.  Then, AllRide (which a few short weeks before had no funding, no public presence, and no research team) demonstrated a self-driving vehicle that purportedly was capable of advanced self-driving maneuvers that others in the field were only able to develop after years of work.  Quinn Emanuel worked with WeRide to investigate, and found that Huang had made several large downloads in the months before his departure from WeRide, and then had wiped several devices before returning them to WeRide.

            Quinn Emanuel promptly filed a complaint for trade secret misappropriation and moved for a preliminary injunction.  In March, the Court granted a preliminary injunction against Huang and AllRide.  However, the Court declined to enjoin Wang at that time, based on Wang’s sworn insistence that he had “nothing to do” with AllRide. 

            Fortunately, the preliminary injunction required Huang to turn over his laptops, phones, and other devices.  From forensic analysis of Huang’s devices, Quinn Emanuel recovered overwhelming evidence that not only was Wang involved with AllRide, he was at the top of their organization chart, and described in investment materials as the “leader” and “soul” of the company.  At the same time, Quinn Emanuel obtained evidence through discovery that AllRide’s source code did not match the capabilities it displayed in marketing materials and which its corporate representative testified AllRide had independently developed.  To make matters worse, Defendants had created new shell companies to avoid discovery and the preliminary injunction. 

            Quinn Emanuel filed a motion for an expanded injunction based on this new evidence, seeking to bind Wang and the new shell companies.  The Court granted the motion, holding that Wang’s earlier declaration “was, at best, inaccurate,” and that Wang “frustrated the intention of the Preliminary Injunction by making these inaccurate statements to the Court.”  The Court further enjoined Defendants from creating any new entities or transferring assets, found that they had been involved in “chicanery,” and ordered them to turn over their entire source code repositories to WeRide for forensic imaging and analysis.