Former Apple engineer Xiaolang Zhang pled guilty to stealing trade secrets of vehicles.
The Apple Car may be gone, but the US government is still suing the engineer. Zhang was caught in July 2018 at San Jose airport as he tried to depart for China, CNBC says.
He was an Apple hardware engineer on the Apple Car team from 2015. While there, he is suspected of obtaining engineering designs for an autonomous car circuit board, as well as taking reference materials, Apple prototypes/prototype needs, and some hardware.
Zhang’s paternity leave and China trip heightened Apple’s suspicions. He quit after returning to work to care for his mother in China. Zhang also announced a new employment with Xmotors. Apple’s inquiry found CCTV evidence showing him stealing circuit boards and a Linux server from an Apple lab.
Zhang pleaded guilty to felony stealing trade secrets on Wednesday in San Jose. Zhang’s plea deal is sealed, but he risks 10 years in jail and a $250,000 sentence for stealing. November will bring sentence.
Another unconvicted defendant
Zhang wasn’t the only trade-secret thief. Another ex-Apple engineer hasn’t pled guilty to comparable charges.
Jizhong Chen was charged in 2019. Chen was headed to China and accused of stealing Apple’s electric car’s IP. Chen shares Zhang’s counsel.
We don’t yet have a trial date, but we should shortly.