(Reuters) — A former Apple Inc. engineer pleaded guilty on Monday to theft of trade secrets — one of two people accused of stealing trade secrets from the iPhone maker’s nascent self-driving car program.
US federal prosecutors have alleged that Xiaolang Zhang downloaded the blueprints for a circuit board for Apple’s self-driving program after revealing his intentions to work for a Chinese self-driving car startup and booking a last-minute flight to China.
He was arrested at the airport in San Jose after he passed a security check.
Xpeng, the Chinese electric car maker Zhang joined after leaving Apple in 2018, said on its Twitter-like Sina Weibo account on Tuesday that the company had no dispute with Apple on the matter and was not involved in Zhang̵7;s case. In some form.
Zhang initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but according to court documents on Monday, he had reached an agreement with prosecutors and changed his plea to guilty. The agreement is sealed and the verdict is set for November.
Zhang’s lawyer confirmed the settlement but declined to comment further. Apple and the US Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jizhong Chen, the second former Apple engineer charged with theft of trade secrets, has pleaded not guilty. He has a court hearing set for August 29.