Stealing Apple trade secrets can get you 120 days in prison and a boatload of debt

in General Discussion edited February 9

A former Apple engineer who pled guilty to stealing trade secrets related to Apple Car has finally been sentenced to 120 days in prison, three years probation, and $146,984 in restitution.

A silhouette of an SUV with an Apple logo glowing white in the center
Apple's Project Titan could lead to an Apple Car

Xiaolang Zhang stole a 25-page schematic of a circuit board for an autonomous vehicle in 2018. He pled not guilty at first but ultimately made a plea agreement with the U.S. government in 2022.

The agreement details are unknown, but Zhang's sentencing has finally been completed. The court filing was first shared by 9to5Mac, which says Zhang has been sentenced to 120 days of imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and $146, 984 in restitution.

Zhang initially faced up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. California federal prosecutors had asked for a one-year sentence.

He had belonged to Apple's not-so-secret Project Titan, which is working on technology that may lead to an Apple Car. While on leave, Zhang told Apple he wasn't returning so he could move to China, take care of his sick mother, and work for a company called XMotors.

Zhang was arrested at the San Jose International Airport while attempting to board a flight to Beijing.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 4
    The Chinese are relentless for stealing trade secrets. So unfortunate.
  • Reply 2 of 4
    Oh. He had to take care of his sick mom. 

    And um… by the way, he also just so happened to start work for a Chinese company competing with a proposed apple car. Lol

    you steal, you pay the price. Glad bubba didn’t get away with it. The fine seems pretty low though. So does the jail time. Stealing someone’s hard whorl and giving it to a competitor to give them a leg up with free R&D as well as insider info? That’s huge and devastating. 
  • Reply 3 of 4
    So in a country like the US, where usually you and up for decades in jail with major sums as restitution, he gets away with almost nothing in a plea deal!? Crazy.
  • Reply 4 of 4
    And yet, when companies do the same thing, they effectively get a slap on the wrist.

    If the only punishment for a crime is a fine, then it's effectively legal for a price.

    And yes, I am aware that this person has jail time.  Companies do not.
Sign In or Register to comment.