Apple comes under fire for poaching battery experts

Apple could be in trouble for poaching staff, as a lawsuit has been filed over in the States by car battery manufacturer A123 Systems, accusing Cupertino of lifting five of its top engineers.

The allegation contends that Apple wanted the staff for its own battery building division, and the news is sure to pour further petrol on the fire – or perhaps we should say it adds extra charge – regarding Apple’s potential ambitions for an electric car.

The suit was spotted by legal site law360.com (via C-net), and states that: “Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123.”

The engineers who were poached worked on some of A123’s most critical projects, apparently, and were targeted by Apple in what is described as an “aggressive campaign”. Cupertino hasn’t made any response to the allegations levelled at it thus far.

All this follows the news which broke earlier this week that Apple has set up a secret research lab for automotive tech, and it could be working on not just CarPlay or related in-car systems, but its own actual car. Staff from Tesla, and also reportedly Mercedes-Benz, have been recruited across already.

A similar spate of medical tech expert hiring preceded the Apple Watch.

A123 Systems is, of course, far from happy, and it puts a crimp on the firm’s good progress of late. In a recent press release, A123 noted: “A123 Systems is well prepared to build on the foundation of 2014’s financial results which were the best in company history, both in terms of revenue and profitability. With a significant capital investment program, A123 looks to expand production capacity in order to meet increasing demand.”