Competition in the field of driverless cars is intense, and Baidu is suing its former senior executive.
On the morning of December 22, Baidu filed a complaint in the Beijing Intellectual Property Court against Wang Jin, its former general manager of the automatic driving division, and Wang’s US company Jingchi. The case has entered the judicial process.
Baidu requested the court issue an injunction to prevent Wang from infringing on its business secrets, including but not limited to ceasing the use of Baidu’s business secrets in all business related to automated driving. It is also seeking 50 million yuan in damages and a public statement of wrongdoing.
Wang served as Baidu’s senior vice president of Baidu, chairman of its technology strategy committee and general manager of its automatic driving division. From April 2010 to April 2015, Wang was also responsible for putting Baidu technology and products into application. Using technical means, Wang increased Baidu’s revenue up 10 times over five years.
In April 2017, Wang officially resigned from Baidu, announcing that he would start his own business and set up a driverless car company named Jingchi. In less than a year, Jingchi has received two rounds of financing totaling $82 million.
“What I regret most is that we started our business too late. The automatic driving industry has great potential for various companies,” Wang said in am interview on October 29 at the Forum for Future.
Wang’s departure coincided with the appointment of Lu Qi as Baidu’s president. Before Wang resigned, Wu Enda, an AI expert who joined Baidu under Wang’s invitation, also left Baidu. Observers said it may be due to different approaches to the development of driverless cars.
Jingchi was sued for poaching employees from CAR Inc. On April 19, CAR Inc. sent letters to four former employees in Silicon Valley Laboratory who resigned for “abnormal reasons.” CAR Inc. said it had evidence those employees infringed on its trade secrets and intellectual property rights before and after their resignation. The four people were accused of taking part in the creation of Jingchi when they worked at CAR Inc. and joining the company after their resignation
Wang said Jingchi has developed technology faster than other companies. One month after its establishment, Jingchi completed its second test on an enclosed road. Two months later, Jingchi got the California test license. At the same time, automatic driving cars developed by Jingchi were able to drive on the open road in Silicon Valley. Six months later, Jingchi could already run well on complex road conditions in Silicon Valley.
According to the plan, Jingchi will mass produce automatic driving cars in June 2020, and will deploy the cars in as many as three cities in China at the end of 2017 or earlier next year. Jingchi signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Anqing municipal government in Anhui province.