Apple Inc. Sued For Poaching Auto Engineers

There have been rumors of Apple working on an electric car, and the recent lawsuit by A123 give more thrust to the speculations

Apple has been slapped with fresh charges for allegedly poaching top-notch techies to build a large-scale battery division, says a report from Reuters. The report cites a court filing that underscored the rumor with more input that the iPhone maker is developing an electric car. The case has been filed by electric car battery maker A123.

Apple poaches vital employees

Apple apparently poached engineers working on some of the most critical projects at A123 last June and continued to do so as per the court filing. Engineers left A123 and joined Apple to work on similar programs, violating their employment agreement, according to a filing from earlier this month in Massachusetts Federal Court.

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Apart from suing Apple, A123 also sued its five former employees. A123 did not specify the project on which the engineers are working, however, it mentioned in the lawsuit that the engineers poached by Apple were so important that after their departure, the project had to be scrapped altogether. Additionally, the company accused one of the five defendants, Mujeeb Ijaz, of helping Apple in further recruitment.

“It appears that Apple, with the assistance of defendant Ijaz, is systematically hiring away A123’s high-tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123,” according to the lawsuit.

Is Apple really working on electric cars?

Citing an industry source, the Reuters report says the iPhone maker has been poaching engineers who have great insight into car systems from various companies, including Tesla, along with holding conversations with automakers to gain know-how on electric cars.

Legal website stated that Apple is currently designing a large-scale battery to make its mark in the same field as A123. A123 is a pioneer in industrial lithium-ion batteries that was funded by a $249 million U.S. government grant. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and has been selling its assets since then.

Also apart from five engineers, six other A123 engineers have left the company as well, says Reuters, citing information from their LinkedIn profiles. As of now, there has been no response from Apple or A123 on the lawsuit.