In a bold (and not very legal) move, Apple has allegedly ‘poached’ engineers from Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems, to work on a new battery division, and has ended up getting sued for it, adding further fuel to the rumors making rounds that they’ve got electric cars on a priority basis in their agenda.

A123 Systems, founded in 2001 and with over 2,000 employees working for it, develops energy storage systems for commercial and industrial applications, including “advanced energy storage for electric-drive vehicles.”  They had a $249 million U.S. government grant backing, but they had to file bankruptcy, back in 2012. That looks like a direct hint to Apple’s motives.

They’ve been scouting for engineers with extensive expertise in car development in the automotive industry, that includes the champions in the field- Tesla. According to the lawsuit filed in Massachusetts federal court, Apple started to really strike it up a notch, vigorously pursuing these engineers around June.

These employees performed critical development and testing activities at A123 systems. These engineers violated the non disclosure and non compete terms of their employment and left to work with Apple. Apple and the five former employees are named defendants in the lawsuit, which goes on to claim one of the defendants left in June to work for Apple and helped recruit one or more of the other four defendants.

This departure led the company in huge investment losses and floundering about to look for replacements, as the engineers were critical for major operations, the lawsuit adds. A123 assert they’ve got proof that Apple has been targeting other battery experts- Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung and Johnson controls to name a few.

A search of LinkedIn data shows more than 60 former Tesla employees now employed by Apple, coming from all fields- hardware, software, manufacturing and supply chain engineers.

No comment has been forthcoming from either party, but we’ll update the store once we receive one.


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