Apple sued for poaching car battery engineers

The suit adds fuel to rumors Apple is developing an electric vehicle

Apple has been sued by electric car battery maker A123 Systems for poaching five of its employees to help set up a large scale battery division.

Apple "embarked on an aggressive campaign" to poach employees from A123 to set up a battery division in June last year, the company said in a suit filed against Apple.

The lawsuit adds fuel to reports that Apple has been developing an electric car in secret and has several hundred employees working on the project.

The suit names Apple and five engineers A123 says Apple poached from it as defendants. It alleges that Apple also targeted employees with experience in the battery business at LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Panasonic, Toshiba, automotive equipment manufacturer Johnson Controls and silicon-graphene battery specialist SiNode.

A123 was founded in 2001 and develops lithium-ion battery systems for cars, commercial transit buses and other applications.

According to the suit filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts earlier this week, Apple poached one employee, Mujeeb Ijaz, in June 2014. Ijaz was in charge of the A123 Venture Technologies office in Waltham, Massachusetts, a division that conducts research and development related to A123's lithium-ion battery technology business.

The four other employees targeted in the case all reported directly to Ijaz, and started working for Apple in the past couple of months, court filings showed.

According to the suit, Ijaz was the main reason they decided to join Apple. Three of the defendants are scientists that were each in charge of separate projects at A123. Those projects had to be shut down in the wake of their departure for lack of people to replace them.

As a result A123 was forced to "scramble to find replacements at substantial cost," it said, adding that all defendants are now working in a field of battery science that is almost identical to the field they worked in at A123. This is in breach of their contracts which contain an anti-poaching agreement and clauses that prohibit sharing of intellectual property developed at A123, the company said.

By filing the suit, the company wants to prevent its ex-employees sharing sensitive data and technology with Apple and prevent Apple from hiring other A123 employees. It is also looking for an unspecified amount of damages.

A123 also asked the court to enter a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Ijaz and Apple, saying that Apple was fully aware of Ijaz's contractual agreement but nevertheless encouraged him to violate it and solicit A123's workforce.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ApplelegalCivil lawsuitsA123 Systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2018

Secure and Save before time runs out with Bitdefender Exclusive Clearance Offer! Get Bitdefender Total Security 2018 Now!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?