Baidu drops lawsuit against driverless car start-up JingChi after agreement on cooperation
Baidu, the operator of China’s largest online search engine, has dropped its lawsuit against JingChi, an autonomous driving start-up founded by its former executive, after the two companies agreed to cooperate in technology development.
Beijing-based Baidu confirmed on Monday that it has ended its legal case against JingChi over alleged theft of technology secrets, just days after Wang Jing, who was Baidu’s former driverless car chief, stepped down from the start up he founded in April 2017.
The decision also came after JingChi had joined Baidu as an official partner of its autonomous driving platform Apollo. Han Xu, the newly appointed chief executive of JingChi, said in a statement on Monday that the company is “very happy to join Apollo and is expected to achieve faster development with the help of the Apollo platform”.
The lawsuit echoed a dispute between Alphabet’s Waymo and Uber Technologies, which also involved allegations of a former executive taking valuable data when he left for another company.
JingChi, which raised US$52 million in a September funding round from investors including Qiming Venture Partners and Nvidia Corp, is licensed to test autonomous vehicles on California’s roads and has struck deals to deploy driverless cars in the eastern Chinese city of Anqing.
In December Baidu filed a 50 million yuan (US$7.9 million) suit against Wang, alleging he stole in-house self-driving technology, which the Nasdaq-listed internet giant has bet on as a key engine for future growth.
Baidu’s open-source autonomous Apollo platform was launched in April last year and has already enlisted over 70 industry partners, including autonomous driving start-ups such as Momenta and iDriver+ Technologies, and Chinese electric vehicle start-ups such as NIO, Chehejia and WM Motors.