Motive and Samsara are battling it out in court documents and on websites over who stole whose ideas.  -  HDT graphic using Motive and Samsara photos

Motive and Samsara are battling it out in court documents and on websites over who stole whose ideas.

HDT graphic using Motive and Samsara photos

Weeks after Samsara announced it was suing Motive for alleged patent infringement, Motive has filed a countersuit, saying Samsara’s lawsuit is “meritless and anticompetitive” and that it is Samsara, not Motive, that’s been doing the copying. Both companies offer technology for fleets such as dashcams, telematics gateways, and electronic logging devices.

Samsara’s lawsuit, filed last month, alleged that Motive (previously known as KeepTruckin) based much of its product line and even its business strategy on stealing Samsara’s technologies. Samsara’s filing asserted that, among other thihngs, Motive illegally accessed Samsara’s platform, copied Samsara’s marketing materials, and made unsubstantiated advertising statements.

Motive's countersuit, filed Feb. 15, makes claims against Samsara that include patent infringement, theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, fraud, false and deceptive advertising, defamation, and intentional interference with prospective economic relations. Many of Motive's allegations were very similar to Samsara's accusations.

In a comment provided to HDT, Samsara responded, "Rather than stopping its unlawful conduct, Motive has decided to copy our claims. As demonstrated in our complaint, this is the same copycat tactic Motive uses for its product development.

"The allegations in Motive's suit are a deliberate distraction, and we have every confidence in our defense. We remain focused on putting an end to Motive's ongoing infringement and unlawful conduct to ensure fair competition, innovation, and safety for the entire industry."

Samsara also has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to issue an exclusion order to prevent Motive’s Vehicle Gateway and Dashcam products from being imported into the United States, and a cease and desist order to prohibit Motive from selling, marketing, advertising, or distributing its Vehicle Gateway and Dashcams, on the grounds that these products infringe on Samsara patents.

‘Meritless Legal Battle’

In a news release, Motive said that "for years, Samsara has engaged in unlawful, anticompetitive business practices to copy Motive’s products and technology and to steal its intellectual property.

“Despite its efforts, Samsara has failed to develop competitive AI technology and has been losing customers, particularly large enterprise accounts, to Motive. Rather than develop better products, Samsara has resorted to waging a meritless legal battle and associated marketing campaign against Motive in an underhanded attempt to limit competition and stifle innovation.”

Motive listed several products and technology it said it introduced before Samsara:

  • Motive, then under the name KeepTruckin, says it pioneered the first iPhone- and Android-based fleet management and electronic logging platform in 2013 and manufactured its first Vehicle Gateway (LBB-1) in August 2015. Samsara, it said, was founded in July 2015 and released its Vehicle Gateway (VG32) in April of the following year, which Motive called a copycat.
  • Motive certified its Electronic Logging Device with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in July 2016, a year before Samsara certified its own ELD with the FMCSA, with a Driver App that the suit alleges was a copy of Motive’s. 
  • In 2019, Motive says, it developed its AI Dashcam with an Ambarella chip in collaboration with electronics manufacturer QSMC. Samsara is in the process of launching its own next-generation AI Dash Cam, manufactured by QSMC, using an Ambarella chip — which Motive alleges is copying Motive’s hardware design and supplier relationship.

Motive claimed Samsara poached Motive’s VP of hardware engineering and other engineering leaders that had worked on Motive’s AI Dashcam, as well as senior sales executives, all in an effort to steal intellectual property as well as customers.

Motive alleges in its countersuit that Samsara copied many of its driver app features.  -  Photo: Motive

Motive alleges in its countersuit that Samsara copied many of its driver app features.

Photo: Motive

Motive Says Samsara Fraudulently Accessed Platform

Motive claims that beginning in 2016, Samsara's leadership, including Chief Product Officer Kiren Sekar and senior product and design executives, used Motive's product to copy specific features and AI capabilities developed by Motive. Many of the Samsara employees who deceptively accessed Motive’s platform were subsequently named as inventors on Samsara patents, alleged Motive.

“These users opened over 30 fake customer accounts, in at least one instance using an official identification number issued by the Department of Transportation for legitimate commercial carriers, an act that violates federal fraud and identity theft statutes,” Motive alleged.

Samsara previously has said it found that dozens of Motive senior employees were using its products for years, viewing Samsara's dashboard over 20,600 times across the known fake customer accounts they created.

AI Dashcam Comparative Studies: Benchmarking or Biased?

One of the contentious topics between the two companies are two studies that Motive commissioned to compare Motive's AI dashcam to competitors Samsara and Lytx.

Motive said it was driven to commision "independent third-party benchmarking studies by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and Strategy Analytics" after Samsara introduced its AI Dash Cam in February 2019 that could detect tailgating, cell phone use, and driver distraction.

Motive contends that the studies proved that Samsara’s AI does not work as advertised.

Samsara's lawsuit outlines its belief that the methodology in those studies was purposefully flawed to skew results in Motive’s favor, to the detriment of Samsara. For instance:

  • Failing to account for false positives.
  • Turning off the Samsara "Mobile Usage" feature for testing about how well the dashcams could detect mobile device usage.
  • Using “out of the box” settings that were not uniform across the tested devices.
  • Testing environments that were inconsistent with Samsara’s product settings.
  • The seatbelt alert for Samsara’s dash cam not being properly enabled during testing, resulting in zero detections of a seatbelt not being worn.

In addition, although Motive on its website devoted to the conflict says Samsara was invited to participate in these third-party studies but declined, Samsara has said it was unaware of the study until the results were published.

Charging that “Samsara would prefer to compete in court rather than in the marketplace,” Motive said it is seeking damages for patent infringement, the return of profits gained as a result of Samsara’s false advertising claims about the Samsara AI Dash Cam, as well as injunctive relief to protect its business interests.

Both companies have launched websites explaining their allegations in detail:

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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