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Tesla and Apple both suspect that their self-driving car technology has been stolen by engineers who went over to a Chinese competitor. That’s a very time-sensitive claim, with intellectual property theft being a central issue in President Donald Trump’s intense trade war against China.
The electric carmaker filed a lawsuit against XMotors.ai, the U.S. research arm of China-based Xpeng, and included a subpoena for Apple to cooperate in the suit. Tesla accused an engineer who worked on its Autopilot system of stealing thousands of highly confidential files when he left the company for a new job at XMotors.ai.
Year - Prosecutors - Hardware - Engineer - Apple
Last year, prosecutors charged a hardware engineer with downloading Apple’s proprietary files as he left the company to go over to the Chinese competitor. He’d been part of the Silicon Valley-giant’s autonomous, electric car secretive development project. The engineer has pleaded not guilty to these charges.
The former Tesla engineer, Guangzhi Cao, responded in a court filing that he downloaded copies of Tesla’s Autopilot-related source code to his personal iCloud account, but denies any illegal maneuvers. According to his lawyers, Cao “has done precisely nothing with Tesla’s IP,” having “diligently and earnestly” tried to remove all of Tesla’s proprietary source code from his personal devices — and he offered to turn over his devices for inspection.
XMotors - Ai - Parent - Company - Xpeng
XMotors.ai’s parent company, Xpeng, has yet to be included in the investigations, but the company did respond to the allegations. Xpeng, which is backed by China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, has denied having any part in the former Tesla engineer’s alleged intellectual property theft. The Chinese company said it had been notified in June 2018 that U.S. authorities were investigating the Apple engineer, his computer, and office equipment.
Xpeng is one of the startups that’s pushing for China to lead the world in autonomous and electric...
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