A former Apple employee has pleaded guilty to trade secret theft in a US court. The engineer is accused of downloading internal Apple documents and transferring them to his wife’s private notebook, among other things. Among the files was an important blueprint for a circuit board intended for an autonomous vehicle, the US Federal Police FBI previously announced.
arrest at the airport
The admission of guilt was now made under a private plea agreement, according to court documents in the United States District Court, Northern District of California (case number 5:18-cr-00312 EJD). The verdict is due in November, according to US media there is a risk of up to 10 years in prison.
The ex-Apple engineer was arrested by the FBI in 2018 at the San Diego airport just before a scheduled flight to China. At that point, he had already been working at Apple for three years developing circuit boards for analyzing sensor data. The engineer also had access to documents that were only intended for a “core team” of employees working on Apple’s secret project “Titan” – the development of a car.
His plan to switch to a Chinese start-up for autonomous driving made a manager suspicious. The stolen documents were then found during an internal investigation by Apple’s security team. The engineer originally pleaded not guilty.
Another case of secret theft
The case gave a rare glimpse into Apple’s secret project. According to FBI documents, the core team tasked with developing an autonomous car was a good 1,200 people at the time. A few months later, another Apple employee was arrested – also before a flight to China – who is also accused of stealing trade secrets relating to an Apple car. The procedure is still pending.
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