Pony.ai, an autonomous driving company, has issued an internal letter stating that Qingtian Truck is suspected of infringing trade secrets. Pony.ai is therefore suing Qingtian Truck, and its principal leaders Pan Zhenhao and Sun Youhan are going to court, Cailian Press reported on August 2.
Pony.ai is a company engaged in the R&D of L4 autonomous driving technology, and was founded by computer scientist Lou Tiancheng and senior scientific research worker James Peng in December 2016. At present, they are CTO and CEO of Pony.ai respectively. In March 2022, Pony.ai announced the completion of round-D financing, and the company’s valuation reached $8.5 billion at that time.
Qingtian Truck, which was sued by Pony.ai at court, is a company specializing in the R&D of self-driving truck and logistics transportation system. It was established in November 2021 by Pan Zhenhao, the former CTO of Pony.ai’s truck business named PonyTron, and Sun Youhan, former leader of PonyTron’s planning and control team in the United States.
In January, Qingtian Truck won exclusive angel investment of nearly $10 million from 5Y Capital which used to be the leading investor in Pony.ai’s round-A of financing.
Pony.ai has requested the Beijing Intellectual Property Court to order the defendant to immediately stop infringing on its trade secrets, and compensate for 60 million yuan ($8.87 million).
Qingtian Truck responded by saying that it has not received any prosecution materials and relevant information is now being verified. The company claimed that it has always abided by relevant laws, insisted on independent R&D, and did not infringe any third-party’s trade secrets. If the media report is true, it will actively prepare for the lawsuit.
One industry insider said: “It is the R&D cycle of Qingtian Truck that may cause disputes over infringement of trade secrets. Six months after its establishment, the company applied for the road test license for self-driving trucks. Generally, it takes an average of two to three years from putting into research to obtaining a road test license.”