As per recent reports, Xiaolang Zhang is said to have pled guilty to stealing trade secrets from Apple, where he had worked on a self-driving car project from 2015 to 2018.
Not just that, when Zhang quit his job at Apple, he told his supervisor that he was going to work for Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology, a Chinese EV start up also known as Xpeng.
U.S. federal prosecutors have alleged that Xiaolang Zhang downloaded the so-called plan for a circuit board for Apple’s self-driving car after disclosing his intentions to work for a Chinese-driving car start-up and booking a last-minute flight to China.
However, Zhang is said to have been arrested at the San Jose airport after he passed through a security checkpoint. In addition to this, Xpeng, the Chinese car manufacturer that Zhang joined after leaving the global tech giant in 2018, said on a Twitter-like Sina Weibo account on Tuesday that the company is known to have no dispute with Apple over the issue and that it was not involved in Zhang’s case in any form.
Moreover, Zhang initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but as per the court documents on Monday, he had reached a plea deal with the prosecutors and changed his plea to guilty. Also, the plea deal is sealed and sentencing is set for November 14th as of now.
During an investigation, Apple determined that he had transferred nearly 24GB of highly problematic data to his wife’s laptop via AirDrop and had also taken circuit boards and a server from the company’s autonomous vehicle lab.
According to US law, theft of trade secrets comes with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, and CNBC reports Zhang to face up to order million dollars as a fine.
He is not the only person who has been accused of stealing automotive trade secrets from Apple or of trying to transfer secretive materials to Xpeng in 2019 as well, another former Apple employee was charged with trying to smuggle schematics, manuals, photographs as well as diagrams from Apple’s car project to China. His case is still ongoing, as per CNBC.
As noted in a report by Verge, the officials said that they “respect any third-party’s intellectual property rights and confidential information.”
Reading so far, I hope you must have gotten a fair insight into an Engineer charged for stealing trade secrets from Apple while working on Apple Car and by now I believe you will be able to decide on your own whether or not you think it was the right thing to do and whether or not you think this could be handled otherwise.
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