Not many people have heard of Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Xpeng Motors. But a California man north of San Diego had heard of them. In fact, say federal prosecutors, he had left his job working on Apple’s self-driving car project in April to go work in May for Xpeng Motors.
The man is accused of stealing trade secrets by copying more than 40 GB of the Cupertino tech giant’s intellectual property on to his wife’s laptop. Xpeng said it was “outraged” to learn of the developments and that after conducting an investigation, it terminated the man’s “employment for cause.”
Apple has thus far not commented.
The company has reportedly been working in secrecy on self-driving car technology, though it has had little official comment on that either. Early this year, Bloomberg reported that Apple had registered 27 autonomous test vehicles with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
It should be noted that after reports surfaced that Apple had given up on autonomous car technology, CEO Tim acknowledged that the company has indeed been working on self-driving tech.
The arrest of the former Apple employee comes against a backdrop of increasing official hostilities over trade and intellectual property. China mandates that foreign technology firms that want access to the enormous Chinese market must partner up with domestic firms and share intellectual property.
Many believe that the technology transfer process is used to steal secrets. The recent case with Apple highlights other ways in which it is believed Chinese companies come to possess American IP.
More than ever before, IP protection is crucial to business survival and prosperity. Contact a law firm experienced in helping firms defend their rights and property.