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Engineer to Pay $250,000 for Stealing Apple Car Trade Secrets

In 2018, the FBI charged a former apple employee with stealing apple car project’s trade secrets. Xiaolang Zhang allegedly worked on the self-driving car project from 2015 to 2018. When he quit the job to work with Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology, a Chinese EV startup that also went by the name Xpeng, the company inquired about him regarding the alleged crime. Recently, the suspect confessed to stealing the secrets and committing theft. Zhang is likely to be imprisoned and charged with a heavy amount for his felony.

Tech Giant Talks About Xiaolang Zhang Stealing Apple Car Trade Secrets

As per the FBI charges, the engineer stole the apple car trade secrets for a Chinese automobile startup. In July 2018, the suspect tried to leave the country when he got arrested and presented to the federal court. Xiaolang was working on the car project and designed and tested all the circuit boards since he was part of the computer team working on the project.

According to the company’s complaint filed in California’s Northern District against the engineer, Zhang was on paternity leave. When he returned at the end of April, he informed his superior about his resignation. He told the supervisor that he wanted to be with his mother in China as she’s not well, and he’d work for Xiaopeng Motors.

Apple Engineer’s Suspicious Acts

When the former apple employee informed his supervisor about his plans, the company had a meeting in which a member of Apple’s New Product security division joined and had the employee reportedly turn in his work phones and laptop. The company found out about the suspicious increase in network activity. Most of the action revolved around massive searches and downloading ample information from the confidential database. As per the complaint, the CCTV footage revealed that Zhang left the autonomous vehicle lab on April 28, 2018, when he was supposed to be on leave. Witnesses saw him carry some stuff, including a computer keyboard, cables, and a large box. Later, the security team of the company confronted him. Zhang admitted that he took data and removed some items like the Linux server and circuit boards. He also confessed to transferring approximately 40GB of data to his wife’s laptop via airdrop. According to the forensic report, 60% of the data was highly problematic. Reportedly, the engineer was stealing the apple car trade secrets for the Chinese company he was going to work for. 

Imprisonment and Fine

According to reports, the former apple employee has been charged with stealing the trade secrets of apple car. He will face 10 years of jail time and a $250,000 fine. A company’s spokesperson said Apple takes the confidentiality and security of intellectual property quite seriously. The representative also mentioned that the company is working with the authorities on the current matter, and they will not let him get away.

Zhang wasn’t the only employee to face legal actions due to committing a felony. Previously, another staff person was charged with attempting to smuggle schematics, diagrams, manuals, and pictures from the car’s project to China. The case is still ongoing. Other than that, a viral TikTok video Landed an Apple employee in trouble. The company accused the individual of breaching its policies.

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Ahmad Akbar
Ahmad Akbar
A journalist with a perspective of providing a broad viewpoint. An enthusiast towards attracting a wide range of audiences with uniqueness and precision in content.
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