Published: Sat, February 02, 2019
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Chinese National Arrested for Stealing Apple's Trade Secrets

Chinese National Arrested for Stealing Apple's Trade Secrets

Chen worked in the driverless cars section of the company, which recently fired some 200 employees in a restructuring.

Apple began investigating Jizhong Chen when another employee reported seeing the engineer taking photographs in a sensitive work space, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed this week.

When called into to have a word with Apple's black shirted security investigators, Chen told Apple investigators he had taken the pictures to support applications for jobs within the company after supervisors tagged him with a performance improvement plan.

For the second time in six months, an Apple engineer has been accused of attempting to leak confidential intellectual information about the company's secret autonomous vehicle programme to China.

During Apple's search of Chen's personal electronics, which Chen reportedly consented to, the complaint says Apple found "over 2,000 files containing confidential and proprietary Apple material, including manuals, schematics and diagrams". Another from June past year depicts an assembly drawing of a wire harness for an autonomous vehicle.

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Apple also discovered that Chen had applied for two jobs outside Apple, including one at an autonomous vehicle company in China.

Of course, trade secrets would still be important even if Apple does abandon Project Titan, its self-driving ambitions, altogether.

In July 2018 Patently Apple posted a report titled "Ex-Apple Employee Arrested for Stealing Project Titan Secrets". According to the indictment, Chen told Apple that he was going to visit his sick father.

Chen faces ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if found guilty of stealing trade secrets. He was released from federal custody after posting $500,000 in cash and property on January 25.

In a statement, Apple said it "takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously". It's worth noting the USA and China aren't really getting along when it comes to trade and intellectual property.

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