The epilogue of two years of proceedings launched by Apple against one of its ex-employees is approaching, with a reversal that may displease the Chinese startup Xpeng. In July 2018, a court in San Jose (California) indicted Xiaolang Zhang for stealing industrial secrets, including a 25-page document that contains plans for the integrated circuits intended for the “Apple Car” (the official name remains to be seen). this unknown stage).
In April of the same year Xiaolang Zhang, then an engineer, suddenly decided to resign from Apple. He explains that he must return to China to take care of his mother who was, he said, ill. But Apple realizes the deception and the ex-employee is intercepted at the San Jose airport by FBI agents before he can even leave the territory.
This ex-engineer finally admits having engaged in industrial espionage
Apple will learn later that Xiaolang Zhang had been recruited by Xpeng, a Chinese startup that develops electric cars – and is currently experiencing strong growth. For now Xpeng remains on the sidelines of this case. But this is not the first time that Xpeng has made suspicious recruitments.
In a separate complaint, a former Tesla employee is accused of stealing Autopilot technologies just before joining the startup’s workforce. Xpeng rejects these accusations of industrial espionage in their entirety. The startup stresses that it has nothing to do with the actions of Xiaolang Zhang, has no knowledge of the details of the case, is not worried by American justice and is not in conflict with Apple on that question.
“Xpeng is a leader in advanced driver assistance systems in China and will continue to develop comprehensive solutions”, adds the startup to our colleagues at Techcrunch. And yet… Xiaolang Zhang finally decided to plead guilty to stealing confidential documents belonging to Apple. A new hearing will be held on November 14, 2022 to conclude this case.
Where there is still a risk of being a question of Xpeng and the disturbing coincidences in which the startup has distinguished itself. It is also difficult not to see the ambitions of Xpeng. The firm has begun its international expansion and already offers its G3 SUV and its P7 sedan in Norway, with its sights set on other markets on the Old Continent, in particular Sweden and the Netherlands in the immediate future.