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Apple sues startup for poaching its engineers in order to steal secret info

Tim Cook
Tim Cook (Image credit: Apple)

"Starting in June 2021, Rivos began a coordinated campaign to target Apple employees with access to Apple proprietary and trade secret information about Apple's SoC designs."

What you need to know

  • Apple is suing a 'stealth mode' startup by the name of Rivos.
  • The company says Rivos has been poaching Apple's engineers and using them to steal information.
  • It is alleged that employees took gigabytes of sensitive information about chips.

A new lawsuit filed by Apple alleges that a startup by the name of Rivos poached Apple engineers from the company and that those employees took gigabytes of sensitive information with them.

In a lawsuit filed Friday Apple claimed:

"Stealth mode" startup Rivos, which was founded to design and market its own competing SoCs, has filled out its ranks with dozens of former Apple engineers. Starting in June 2021, Rivos began a coordinated campaign to target Apple employees with access to Apple proprietary and trade secret information about Apple's SoC designs. Apple promptly sent Rivos a letter informing Rivos of the confidentiality obligations of Apple's former employees, but Rivos never responded.

The suit goes on to say that, on accepting their offers, some employees "took gigabytes of sensitive SoC" specifications and design files using USB drives to offload material or AirDrop to transfer files:

"Others saved voluminous presentations on existing and unreleased Apple SoCs—marked Apple Proprietary and Confidential—to their personal cloud storage drives. One even made a full Time Machine backup of his entire Apple device onto a personal external drive."

The suit alleges that Rivos told employees to install encrypt communications apps before continuing conversations. Apple is seeking damages for "any unjust enrichment" caused by the "misappropriation of the trade secrets" and an injunction against the company, as well as a return of any stolen property.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.