Apple sues former employee for leaking trade secrets to benefit his startup

Apple Park photo of the side of the main building
Apple Park photo of the side of the main building (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple is suing its former materials lead Simon Lancaster.
  • The company alleges that Lancaster sold trade secrets to the media in exchange for favorable startup coverage.

Apple is suing its former materials lead Simon Lancaster, accusing the ex-employee of exchanging trade secrets in order to gain connections for their new startup business.

As reported by AppleInsider, Lancaster is being accused of purposely accessing sensitive information outside of his job scope with the company and then selling it to a media outlet.

Despite over a decade of employment at Apple, Lancaster abused his position and trust within the company to systematically disseminate Apple's sensitive trade secret information in an effort to obtain personal benefits. He used his seniority to gain access to internal meetings and documents outside the scope of his job's responsibilities containing Apple's trade secrets, and he provided these trade secrets to his outside media correspondent.

The claim goes on to say that the media outlet published a series of articles citing a "source" at Apple who, Apple says, was Lancaster. The company claims that they were able to discern the connection between Lancaster and the media correspondent through his employee devices.

After his departure from Apple, his role with the correspondent deepened according to the accusation. Apple investigated the Apple-issued devices used by Lancaster to determine his continued connection with the correspondent, and discovered that he took specific steps to obtain additional Apple trade secrets. Lancaster had sent the correspondent specific details upon request, sometimes using Apple-issued devices and other times in person. The trade secrets divulged included product plans for unannounced devices and updates to existing lines.

Apple says that Lancaster is in violation of the Defense of Trade Secret Act, violation of the California Uniform Trade Secret Act, and a breach of a written contract. The company is demanding a trial by jury and "injunctive relief, damages proven at trial, punitive damages, restitution, and costs of the lawsuit." It is unclear if and when the trial will happen.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.