Legal Technology News

Former Apple Engineer Accused of Stealing Self-Driving Technology for Chinese Company
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Self driving car

Summary: An ex-Apple engineer is accused of downloading information from Apple’s self-driving technology before he quit to go work for a Chinese company.

A former Apple Inc. employee was arrested July 7 trying to board a flight to China with a laptop of illegally downloaded information. Zhang Xiaolang is accused by U.S. prosecutors of stealing driverless car secrets to give to a Chinese startup, according to Bloomberg.

  
What
Where


Zhang had just passed through security at the San Jose International Airport where he was intending to catch a flight to China. He was going to work for the Guangzhou-based Xiaopeng Motors. He left Apple in April but downloaded files of proprietary information before he left, according to the criminal complaint.

Zhang was a hardware engineer for the autonomous vehicle development team allowing him to have access to confidential company databases. He took paternity leave in April and then would be moving back to China to work at Xmotors, Zhang told Apple. Before his resignation, he was visiting the office and showing an increase in network activity which concerned Apple.

During a Federal Bureau of Investigation interview, Zhang admitted to downloading Apple driverless technology onto his wife’s laptop so he could have continued access to them.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!




In response to this event and other similar events, the U.S. Treasury Department plans introduce an emergency law which would increase scrutiny on Chinese investments to sensitive U.S. industries. This includes cracking down on investments to new-energy vehicles, robotics and aerospace, all of which the government views as sources of threat to economic and national security.

The self-driving car project Apple is tackling competes with the Detroit auto industry and Tesla Inc. The plan to build a self-driving car was approved in 2015 and resulted in Apple hiring over 1,000 engineers. In 2016, Apple scaled back their plan to have a physical car built and focused instead on the self-driving software and sensor technology. Of Apple’s 135,000 full-time employees, around 5,000 are disclosed on the self-driving car project. Of those, over half have access to the databases of information.



Apple has put cars out on the roads already with the software but is still in the testing phase to determine how reliable the software is. They will use the software on special Volkswagen vans that transport employees between buildings. They have not made any announcement into whether they will release the technology to consumers.

Most of Zhang’s network activity “consisted of both bulk searches and targeted downloading copious pages of information from the various confidential database applications.” Prosecutors allege that he downloaded engineering schematics, technical manuals, and more.

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said, “Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our intellectual property very seriously. We’re working with authorities on this matter and will do everything possible to make sure this individual and any other individuals involved are held accountable for their actions.”

Are you surprised that Apple did not have greater security measures to ensure their technology is not stolen? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about the self-driving car industry, read these articles:

Photo: knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu



 

RELEVANT JOBS

Associate Attorney

USA-CA-Glendale

Knapp, Petersen & Clarke, a Glendale law firm is looking for an associate with 2-4 years of lit...

Apply now

PART TIME MARKETING DIRECTOR

USA-LA-Baton Rouge

Law Firm marketing (part time) with a variety of administrative and marketing production activities,...

Apply now

Paralegal

USA-TX-Flower Mound

We are a small, yet growing, law firm in need of an experienced, reliable, and proactive Family Law ...

Apply now

Legal Assistant

USA-NV-Reno

Full Job Description Personal injury and workers\' compensation firm looking for a full-time Lega...

Apply now

BCG FEATURED JOB

Locations:

Keyword:



Search Now

Housing Finance Associate Attorney

USA-MN-Minneapolis

Minneapolis office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks a housing finance associate at...

Apply Now

Senior Intellectual Property Litigation Associate Attorney

USA-PA-Philadelphia

Philadelphia office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks a senior intellectual propert...

Apply Now

Senior Intellectual Property Litigation Associate Attorney

USA-GA-Atlanta

Atlanta office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks a senior intellectual property lit...

Apply Now

SEARCH IN ARCHIVE

To Top