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More proof Apple is working on car battery technology

Updated Feb 19th, 2015 7:51PM EST
Apple Car Rumors

A new lawsuit against Apple seemingly lends even more credence to the somewhat incredulous rumor that the company is working on developing an electric car. Originally spotted by 9to5Mac, a company called A123 Systems is suing Apple for hiring five key Ph.D scientists who were researching advanced battery technologies for them. According to the suit, the employees are in violation of non-compete agreements which precludes them from engaging in substantially similar battery research for other companies.

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A123 Systems specializes in researching and developing high performance and energy-efficient lithium-ion batteries, the same type found inside the iPhone and, surprise surprise, Tesla electric cars.

It’s important to note, though, that A123 Systems’ research primarily centers on battery technologies for use in commercial and passenger vehicles, not consumer electronic devices. In other words, the fact that A123 Systems filed this lawsuit in the first place lends weight to the notion that Apple is, in fact, actively exploring the development of electric car batteries.

According to the suit, Apple is working on developing a large-scale battery division and has aggressively embarked on a campaign to poach A123 Systems employees. As a direct result, some key research initiatives A123 was involved in were terminated because suitable employee replacements couldn’t be found. Translation? Apple has brought on board some exceedingly smart battery talent.

The complaint reads in part:

Upon information and belief, Apple is currently developing a large scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123. In connection with that development, beginning in or around June of 2014, defendant Apple embarked on an aggressive campaign to poach employees of A123 and to otherwise raid A123’s business. To date, Apple has poached the five Individual Defendants from A123. With the exception of defendant Ijaz, all of the Individual Defendants terminated their employment with A123 and began working for Apple within the last month.

The complaint further alleges that one defendant in particular, one Mujeeb Ijaz, was tasked with recruiting and convincing other A123 employees to jump ship and join Apple.

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. 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…

A123 initially became aware of Apple’s recruiting efforts in late December 2014. Subsequent letter exchanges between the two companies, however, failed to yield any sort of mutual understanding. Specifically, A123 demanded assurances from Apple that its former employees would not be working on the same type of battery research they conducted while at A123. Follow-up letters from Apple failed to provide any such assurances.

And hence, we have a somewhat intriguing lawsuit on our hands.

The full complaint can be read in its entirety below.

a123 v Apple

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.