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An Arrest at Apple Shows How Corporate Spies Worm Their Way Into the System

MIN READFeb 5, 2019 | 09:30 GMT

Journalists gather for a product launch event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, on Sept. 12, 2018.

Journalists gather for a product launch event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, on Sept. 12, 2018. Corporations like Apple must always be on their toes against would-be agents stealing their secrets.

(NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

Chen Jizhong was all ready to head for China on Jan. 22 when FBI special agents swooped in on the Apple engineer. Chen's alleged crime, according to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, was to have stolen trade secrets relating to the company's autonomous vehicle program. In doing so, Chen appeared to be following in the footsteps of Zhang Xiaolang, a Chinese compatriot and Apple colleague whom authorities also nabbed as he prepared to flee to China in July 2018. In both cases, the men were planning to start employment with Apple's Chinese competitors in the driverless car market. The Chen and Zhang cases bear some striking similarities but also feature some intriguing differences. Together, they illustrate that the threats to in-demand intellectual property will persist even after a successful prosecution and that agents will alter their tactics in response to efforts...

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