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Press Release

Former Apple Employee Charged With Theft Of Trade Secrets

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury indicted former Apple Incorporated (Apple) employee Weibao Wang, charging him with theft and attempted theft of trade secrets in connection with a scheme to access, download, and steal Apple technology related to autonomous systems, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey and FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp.

According to the indictment, Apple hired Wang, 35, formerly of Mountain View, Calif., to work as a software engineer beginning in March of 2016.  The indictment describes how Wang signed a confidentiality agreement with Apple.  The indictment further states that Apple provided Wang with in-person secrecy training that covered the appropriate handling of confidential material, and established rules prohibiting the transfer and transmission of the company’s intellectual property without Apple’s consent.  Wang was assigned to work with a team at Apple that designed and developed hardware and software for autonomous systems, which can have a variety of applications, such as self-driving cars.

“Innovation is alive and well in Silicon Valley—indeed, throughout the Northern District of California,” said U.S. Attorney Ramsey.  “Unfortunately, there will always be some who cheat the system by stealing and profiting from the fruits of others’ labor. The Wang prosecution is but one example. We are pleased that the Disruptive Technology Task Force renews energy and focus on securing innovation for those who actually create it.”

“The protection of intellectual property rights is crucial to the economic security of our region, which is home to world-renowned ingenuity and innovation,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Tripp.  “The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to pursue individuals who cut corners by using deceptive and illegal methods to obstruct law enforcement investigations and benefit themselves.”

According to the indictment, in November of 2017, a little more than two and a half years after being granted access to a range of Apple’s sensitive materials, Wang signed a letter accepting an offer of full-time employment as a Staff Engineer with the U.S.-based subsidiary of a company headquartered in the People’s Republic of China.  The parent company is described in the indictment as “COMPANY ONE” and allegedly was working to develop self-driving cars.  The indictment alleges Wang waited more than four months after signing the new employment agreement before informing Apple that he was resigning.

After Wang’s last day at Apple on April 16, 2018, Apple representatives reviewed access logs documenting historical activity on Apple’s network. Apple identified Wang as having accessed large amounts of sensitive proprietary and confidential information in the days leading up to his departure from Apple.

The indictment describes the June 27, 2018, search by law enforcement of Wang’s Mountain View residence and the discovery of large quantities of data taken from Apple prior to his departure.  Wang was present during the search and told agents he had no plans to travel.  Nevertheless, Wang purchased a one-way plane ticket from San Francisco International Airport to Guangzhou, China, and boarded a flight that night.  Through subsequent investigation, law enforcement determined that Wang accessed Apple’s proprietary and confidential information after leaving Apple, during the period in which he was employed by the subsidiary of COMPANY ONE.

The indictment describes six categories of trade secrets that Wang allegedly stole, or attempted to steal, and charges him with one count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 1832(a)(1),(2),(3), & (4) for each category as follows:



Item Description


On or about August 11, 2016

Entire Autonomy Source Code


On or about April 18, 2018

Tracking for an Autonomous System


On or about April 15, 2018

Behavior Planner for an Autonomous System


On or about April 14, 2018

Architecture Design for an Autonomous System


In or about April 2018

Descriptions of Hardware Systems, Including Architecture, Modules, Power, and Inputs


On or about April 15, 2018

Motion Planner for an Autonomous System

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  Wang faces a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine in the amount of $250,000 (or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the scheme) for each count of theft or attempted theft of trade secrets.  As part of any sentence following conviction, the court also may order a term of supervised release, fines or other assessments, restitution, and forfeiture, if appropriate.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The Special Prosecutions Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California is prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Updated May 16, 2023