The Cupertino-based tech giant is facing yet another lawsuit for allegedly systematically poaching the employees of A123 Systems, a lithium battery maker. And while the news itself isn’t all that joyous for Apple, it does fuel the pre-existing rumors that the company has begun working on an electric car.
In its lawsuit, the battery maker accuses Apple of repeatedly poaching their employees in an attempt to establish what they believe will be a rival battery operation. The claim was filed in early February and points out that five of the employees that Apple took in had all signed non-disclosure, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements with the battery maker.
According to A123 allegations, the defendants included in the lawsuit have not only violated these signed agreements but have also provided valuable information to a massive competitor. A123’s claim included accusations that the defendants had copied, stolen and given away the confidential information they had been privy to while being employed by the company.
Of these employees that A123 mentions in its claim, former CTO Mujeeb Ijaz is called out as having assisted Apple in repeatedly hiring away the company’s talent, from Ph.D’s to engineers. In so doing, A123 claims, Apple and Ijaz have effectively shut down some of the company’s projects while working towards constructing Apple’s battery division in the likeness (“similar if not identical” as the claim wrote) of A123’s operation.
Everything began around June 2014, the lawsuit claims, when Apple began to aggressively target A123’s top engineers, who, at the time, had been involved in some of the company’s most important projects. Yet the Cupertino tech-giant has also allegedly turned its sight to workers from other companies, such as Toshiba, Panasonic, LG or Samsung.
On the one hand, the battery maker is particularly upset with the lost investment that such an employee represents: when leaving, A123 loses all of the investment made in such individuals. On the other hand, essential projects in which such employees had been involved are now in critical situations while the company attempts, at substantial costs, to find proper replacements.
A123 has focused on producing cutting-edge lithium-ion technology aimed for vehicle batteries. Time will tell if the rumors that surfaced this month deserve any merit, but it may be that Apple has its eyes set on producing an electric-powered car.
“They are doing so in an effort to support Apple’s apparent plans to establish a battery division that is similar if not identical to A123’s, in competition with A123.”
the lawsuit wrote.
Such an endeavor would certainly explain the company’s aggressive strategy at finding employees, especially since over 150 Apple employees were lost to Tesla Motors.
Image Source: Ubergizmo
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