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Bloomberg reports that the suit accuses Chi Xu, who left Magic Leap in 2016, of using confidential information to “quickly develop a prototype of lightweight, ergonomically designed, mixed reality glasses for use with smart phones and other devices that are strikingly similar” to the US firm’s designs.
Xu, who founded his own Beijing-based company, showed off his AR glasses earlier this year. Magic Leap says he spent his time at the firm neglecting his work duties to steal information with the intention of launching a rival product. The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, fraud and unfair competition.
Allegedly stealing company secrets and taking them to China isn’t a new phenomenon. Chinese national Xiaolang Zhang, who had worked in Apple’s autonomous car division, was arrested in July last year on his way to Beijing to get a job with electric/self-driving vehicle startup Xmotors. Apple investigators had found 40GB of the company’s confidential data on his wife’s laptop. In January this year, another Chinese citizen working for Apple was also charged with stealing autonomous car secrets.
The US says Chinese firms have spent years stealing IPs from American companies—something that contributed to the current trade war. Last November, the Justice Department said it was clamping down on the practice by working alongside the FBI.