Apple and electric car battery maker A123 Systems have nearly reached a settlement, after A123 filed a federal lawsuit accusing Apple of poaching its top engineers and scientists to build its own battery division.
Court filings from A123 this week revealed the company asked a federal judge to grant it more time to finalize the settlement now that the two sides have “reached an agreement, signed a term sheet, and are in the process of drafting a final settlement agreement.”
A123’s lawsuit was filed earlier this year, adding fuel to the fire of rumors that Apple is developing an electric self-driving car to rival Tesla. According to court documents, A123 accused its former employee, Mujeeb Ijaz, of violating an agreement to not poach A123’s engineers after he joined Apple.
Apple and Ijaz allegedly hired away at least four of A123’s top high-tech PhD and engineering employees, which forced the company to shut down various projects because it didn’t have enough brains to work on them. Court documents show Apple has denied any wrongdoing in the lawsuit and dismissed A123’s claims as “premised on baseless conjecture.”
The lawsuit marks another difficult turn of events for A123, which was founded in 2001 and enjoyed the county’s largest IPO in 2009 at $371 million. The car-battery maker filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after a series of production missteps and a slowdown in the electric car market. The Boston-based company is now owned by China’s Wanxiang Group, which also bought the bankrupt electric-car maker Fisker Automotive last year.