Former Project Titan Engineer Pleads Guilty to Stealing Automotive Trade Secrets in Federal Court Today
In July 2018 Patently Apple posted a report titled "Ex-Apple Employee Arrested for Stealing Project Titan Secrets." At the time, Xiaolang Zhang was accused by U.S. prosecutors of downloading files containing proprietary information as he prepared to leave Apple back in April and start work for Guangzhou-based Xiaopeng Motors. according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in San Jose, California.
As a hardware engineer for Apple's autonomous vehicle development team, Zhang was granted access to confidential company databases, according to the complaint. Zhang admitted to the FBI that he downloaded Apple driverless technology files to his wife's laptop to have continued access to them, according to the complaint.
We're learning this evening that Xiaolang Zhang has pleaded guilty in Federal Court earlier today. Zhang’s plea agreement with the U.S. government is under seal, according to court filings on Monday. Zhang faces as much as 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to a felony charge of theft of trade secrets. Sentencing is scheduled for November 14, 2022.
Apple uses internal software to track which employees are disclosed on which projects, and are required to attend in-person secrecy training, according to the complaint. Zhang worked on the autonomous car project’s Compute Team, which designed and tested circuit boards for sensors.
Schematics for circuit designs are considered among the most valuable trade secrets in the electronics industry. For more on this, read the full CNBC report.