Chinese engineer charged for stealing Apple car secrets

Chinese engineer charged for stealing Apple car secrets

Chen worked in the driverless cars section of the company, which recently fired some 200 employees in a restructuring. It turns out fellow employees saw Chen taking pictures of the workspace within Project Titan.

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation, the engineer has also acknowledged that he has backed up his Apple work computer to a personal hard drive, which is against the company's policy.

The Chinese engineer Jizhong Chen was arrested and charged last week when he was scheduled to fly back to China.

A second Chinese national working for Apple has been accused of stealing trade secrets related to Apple's self-driving vehicle initiative, otherwise known as Project Titan. The complaint says it was then discovered that Chen, who said the backups were to support internal job applications, also applied to a Chinese autonomous-vehicle firm in direct competition with Apple. In 2016, Apple scaled back the project to focus nearly exclusively on developing the underlying software and hardware that could eventually power a self-driving vehicle, whether that is one designed by Apple or a partner.

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The FBI alleged that Chen used his employment "working on a highly confidential programme" to obtain IP containing trade secrets from Apple.

What's interesting about the latest complaint is that it reveals more about Apple's self-driving program in one document that has been made public in the years of its existence. He informed Apple this month that he meant to travel to China to visit his ill father.

The trade secrets theft charge against Chen carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. He has been released on $500,000 bail after lodging $100,000 in cash and putting some property up as collateral. Last July, Apple engineer Xiaolang Zhang was arrested for attempting to trade confidential material to China's XMotors. As with Chen, he is charged with stealing trade secrets.

The company had placed him on Apple's performance improvement plan in December 2018, Chen said.

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