Ex-Apple Worker Accused of Stealing Self-Driving Automobile Tech

Federal prosecutors have charged a former Apple worker with stealing commerce secrets and techniques associated to Apple’s autonomous car program.

Xiaolang Zhang allegedly labored on Apple’s secretive self-driving automobile undertaking. Zhang left Apple in April saying he was going to work for a Chinese language electrical car firm referred to as Xpeng Motors. He’s accused of copying greater than 40GB of Apple mental property to his spouse’s laptop computer earlier than leaving the corporate, in keeping with courtroom paperwork. The paperwork don’t accuse Xpeng Motors of wrongdoing.

Neither Apple nor Xpeng Motors responded to requests for remark, nor did Xpeng Motors verify whether or not Zhang is or was an worker.

Apple has been reported to be growing self-driving-vehicle expertise for a number of years, although the corporate has been tight-lipped about its plans and ambitions. Bloomberg reported in January that the corporate had registered 27 self-driving check automobiles with California’s Division of Motor Automobiles. CEO Tim Cook dinner acknowledged final 12 months that the corporate was growing autonomous-car expertise; that adopted studies that Apple had given up on plans to construct its personal automobile.

Zhang’s arrest comes amid rising rigidity between the US and China, largely across the therapy of mental property. China requires international tech companies that wish to do enterprise within the nation to companion with home corporations and share or license their mental property with these companions. Many corporations imagine that Chinese language corporations use this course of, referred to as “technology transfer” to steal their commerce secrets and techniques. The Trump administration’s tariffs are partly a response to this observe, however China has to this point refused to finish it.

The Zhang case highlights different ways in which Chinese language corporations may nonetheless get their fingers on US corporations’ IP.

In line with the courtroom paperwork, Zhang was employed by Apple to work on the autonomous car undertaking in 2015. In April, Zhang took paternity go away and traveled to China. On April 30, he knowledgeable Apple that he was resigning from the corporate and deliberate to return to China to be nearer to his household and work for Xpeng Motors.

Throughout an inside investigation, Apple found that Zhang had downloaded “copious” pages of data together with Apple IP from firm databases within the days earlier than his resignation, and, towards firm coverage, had taken Apple property throughout his paternity go away.

Zhang admitted to Apple’s safety workers that he had taken dwelling a Linux server belonging to Apple and had transferred knowledge to his spouse’s laptop computer. He mentioned he needed to assessment the info for his personal schooling, hoping it will assist him safe one other job inside Apple. He returned the server and introduced the laptop computer into Apple for examination.

Zhang was arrested July 7 at Mineta San Jose Worldwide Airport. He had booked a flight to Hangzhou, China.

In line with its web site, Xpeng Motors was based in 2014 and is headquartered in Guangzhou, China. It obtained obtained an funding from Chinese language ecommerce large Alibaba final 12 months, in keeping with Tech In Asia, in addition to Huawei, Xiaomi, and Foxconn, in keeping with PanDaily. The corporate introduced a automobile with “self-parking” and different autonomous automobile options on the Shopper Electronics Present in January.

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