After an extended legal battle, the California district court has delivered its judgment in the case concerning Xiaolang Zhang, a former employee of Apple. Zhang has been sentenced to four months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and has been ordered to pay $146,984 in damages.

This legal saga began in 2018 when the FBI and Apple launched a joint investigation into accusations of trade secret theft. It was discovered that Zhang had allegedly unlawfully obtained sensitive company information related to Project Titan, Apple’s codename for its upcoming smart electric vehicle (EV) project.

After leaving the United States and settling in China, Zhang embarked on a new professional endeavor with XMotors, a Chinese startup specializing in autonomous vehicle technologies. During this time, Apple noticed Zhang’s suspicious behavior and took action.

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Substantial evidence of Zhang’s secretive actions surfaced from his network activity at Apple and his use of Apple devices. It was revealed that as an engineer involved in the development of various products under Project Titan, Zhang had accessed and acquired numerous files from Apple’s repositories. These files included a 25-page dossier detailing the engineering schematics of a circuit board designed for autonomous vehicles.

During his tenure at Apple, Zhang was engaged in various projects, including the design and testing of circuit boards capable of interpreting sensor data. As the investigation progressed, it became clear that Zhang had unlawfully obtained a multitude of files from Apple’s internal systems.

Initially denying the charges against him in 2018, Zhang later changed his plea and entered a guilty verdict in August 2022.


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