February 27, 2024

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Former Apple Employee Sentenced for Stealing Self-Driving Car Secrets: What You Need to Know

2 min read
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Xiaolang Zhang, a former Apple employee, recently received a 120-day prison sentence followed by a three-year supervised release after pleading guilty to stealing self-driving car secrets from the company. The case sheds light on the consequences of industrial espionage and the measures taken to protect valuable intellectual property.

The Case of Xiaolang Zhang

Xiaolang Zhang, a hardware engineer involved in Apple’s self-driving vehicle project, was found guilty of stealing trade secrets related to the development of the company’s autonomous vehicle initiative codenamed Project Titan. Following his arrest in 2018 at San Jose International Airport while attempting to board a flight to China, Zhang recently changed his plea to guilty, admitting to the theft of sensitive information.

Sentencing and Restitution

Zhang’s sentencing includes a 120-day prison term and a three-year supervised release, with an additional requirement to pay restitution amounting to $146,984. Additionally, he faced the potential of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The severity of the sentencing reflects the gravity of the offense and the need to uphold intellectual property protection.

Details of the Theft

According to Apple’s complaint, Zhang transferred a 25-page document containing engineering schematics of a circuit board for the self-driving vehicle to his wife’s laptop via AirDrop. He also saved copies of technical manuals describing Apple’s prototype and was found to have stolen circuit boards and a Linux server from the company’s development labs.

Implications and Consequences

The case highlights the significance of safeguarding valuable intellectual property and the potential consequences of breaching trade secrets. It serves as a reminder of the measures that companies must take to protect sensitive information and the legal actions that may be pursued against individuals involved in industrial espionage.

Key Points:

– Former Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang sentenced to 120 days in prison for stealing self-driving car secrets.
– Zhang pleaded guilty to transferring sensitive information about Apple’s autonomous vehicle project.
– He is also required to pay restitution amounting to $146,984 and faces a three-year supervised release after serving his prison term.
– The case underscores the significance of protecting intellectual property and the legal actions taken against individuals engaged in industrial espionage.

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