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Baidu Sues Silicon Valley Self-Driving Startup JingChi Over IP Theft

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【Summary】Chinese technology giant Baidu is suing a former executive, claiming he stole proprietary information and used it to form his own self-driving car startup, Sunnyvale-based JingChi.

Eric Walz    Dec 27, 2017 8:00 AM PT
Baidu Sues Silicon Valley Self-Driving Startup JingChi Over IP Theft
author: Eric Walz   

SUNNYVALE, Calif., — Chinese technology giant Baidu is suing a former executive, claiming he stole proprietary information and used it to form his own self-driving car startup —Sunnyvale-based JingChi.

Baidu's suit, which was filed late last week in Beijing, seeks around $7.6 million in damages. JingChi plans to fight the lawsuit, Bloomberg has reported.

JingChi CEO Wang Jing spent seven years at Baidu, eventually managing more than 5,000 engineers as the company's senior vice president of engineering and reporting directly to the CEO, according to his LinkedIn page. Baidu is China's largest search engine.

Wang quit Baidu in April to launch JingChi, which has spent the past nine months rapidly clearing major hurdles in autonomous driving. Five weeks after launch, the company conducted its first autonomous driving tests on closed roads, and in June obtained a license to test its self-driving software in cars on California's public roads.

In August, the company signed an agreement with Anqing, a city of more than 5 million people in China, to deploy a fleet of several hundred self-driving taxis in 2018. In September, it raised $52 million in capital from Nvidia GPU Ventures and a handful of Chinese venture firms. The company now employs more than 50 people in Sunnyvale and Beijing.

Baidu is one of the many tech companies racing to introduce a autonomous production car on public roads. Analysts believe fully autonomous cars will likely be commercially available by the year 2020, although some companies claim they could be ready as soon as next year.

The case bears striking similarities to a separate lawsuit Waymo filed against Uber over claims that a former Waymo executive Anthony Levandowski stole intellectual property that he used to launch a self-driving truck startup Otto, which Uber later acquired for $680 million.

Baidu operates two research and development offices in Sunnyvale, with engineers there largely focused on artificial intelligence, machine learning and autonomous driving.

Before joining Baidu in 2010, Wang held senior positions at eBay China and Google.


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