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Apple employee accused of trade secret theft for Chinese firm

A hardware engineer is accused of stealing information about Apple’s driverless car technology. According to Bloomberg, Jizhong Chen was observed taking photos with a wide-angle lens inside the area that houses Apple’s autonomous car project. Chen signed a confidentiality agreement when he was hired six months before at Apple.

Chen admits he took the pictures

He is now facing charges of trade secret theft in federal court in San Jose, California. According to prosecutors, Chen admits he took the photos and saved about 2,000 files to his personal hard drive.

Photos revealed important information about Apple’s technology

The U.S. government seized pictures that showed Apple’s autonomous car driving architecture, as well as a drawing of a wire harness for a driverless vehicle. Apple claimed that disclosing this data would be incredibly damaging to its autonomous vehicle project.

Apple discovered he was applying for a job with a Chinese rival

When Apple investigated Chen, he stated he planned to use the photos to support job applications within the company. However, the technology company later learned he was applying for a job with a rival Chinese company.

Chen was arrested before his flight to China

Chen also told Apple he was flying to China to visit his sick father. However, he was arrested before he could board his flight. He is now out of jail after posting his $500,000 bail.

The Justice Department announced a “China Initiative” in November, which targets trade theft cases that involve leaking information to Chinese companies. Several other Chinese nationals have been prosecuted for revealing trade secret information.

A trade secret is an idea, formula, method, process, pattern, device or compilation of information that gives a company a competitive advantage over other companies. If a person misappropriates a company’s trade secrets, you can bring a lawsuit against that individual. In a trade secret theft case, you can try to prevent the information from being released and may also pursue damages against the accused party.