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Apple Sues Rivos Startup for Alleged Theft of Secrets

Apple
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has sued startup Rivos for allegedly stealing trade secrets related to its latest A15 and M1 system-on-chips. The startup is in stealth mode, but in a year it hired over 40 engineers from Apple and allegedly asked some to take gigabytes of confidential information with them.

Rivos was founded in June 2021 to develop system-on-chips that could rival those used by Apple and other companies. The company allegedly wanted to poach as many Apple employees as possible and so far has hired over 40 engineers from the Cupertino, California-based tech giant, reports Reuters.

Rivos is a startup that operates in stealth mode, so it is unclear what kind of SoCs it intends to develop. Given the nature of A15 and M1, we can speculate that the firm could be looking to the smartphones and PC markets.

According to Apple, at least two of former Apple employees allegedly took thousands of files related to A15 and M1 SoC design and other trade secrets. Rivos allegedly specifically targeted Apple engineers with access to gigabytes of confidential data and asked them to download it to flash drives, reports Bloomberg.

Apple claims that usage of its trade secrets and design of A15 and M1 could significantly accelerate development of Rivos SoCs and provide the company unfair advantages over other processor designers, such as Apple itself. To that end, Apple wants the court to block usage of its highly sensitive proprietary data by Rivos, return its property and award an undisclosed sum in damages.

“Apple has reason to believe that Rivos instructed at least some Apple employees to download and install apps for encrypted communications (e.g., the Signal app) before communicating with them further,” the complaint by Apple reads.

This is not the first time that Apple has sued its former employees. Last year it sued Gerrard Williams III and his colleagues, who founded Nuvia to develop datacenter SoCs with leading performance-per-watt characteristics. The dispute is set to go to trial in October, 2023. Nuvia was eventually sold to Qualcomm, the latter plans to use Nuvia’s CPU designs for it notebook SoCs and officially has no plans to develop datacenter processors.

Anton Shilov
Anton Shilov

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • Lindefar
    Funny how when people leave Intel, amd or nvidia, it's just another step in they're career, but if they dare leave apple, they are thieves?
    Reply
  • rgd1101
    guess you miss the "allegedly asked some to take gigabytes of confidential information with them."
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    So let me get this straight... When Intel (or was it Qualcomm?) was faced with this same problem, I at least remember they sued the individual with proper proof, but Apple went for the Company instead with the assumption it was them who* asked their ex-employees to steal. So this begs two questions:

    1.- Who the hell hired those rats in the first place? XD
    2.- I hope they realize they have to have some pretty darn good evidence for that claim, otherwise it'll be so easy to file a libel counter-lawsuit or something?

    I'm not saying they're wrong on doing it, but I'm just curious. Also, looking forward to the response from that Rivos Company. I wonder if they'll just settle by firing the individuals and not using any of the alleged information that was stolen.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • Lindefar
    rgd1101 said:
    guess you miss the "allegedly asked some to take gigabytes of confidential information with them."
    Nope, the keyword being allegedly. This is a good way to spread FUD on a new company.
    Besides, gigabytes of data? It's the content, not the amount that's crucial, I have tb of data from old jobs. (All legal)
    Reply
  • rgd1101
    Lindefar said:
    Nope, the keyword being allegedly. This is a good way to spread FUD on a new company.
    Besides, gigabytes of data? It's the content, not the amount that's crucial, I have tb of data from old jobs. (All legal)
    that depend on what the data is. if it trade secret, then it is not legal.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    Lindefar said:
    Funny how when people leave Intel, amd or nvidia, it's just another step in they're career, but if they dare leave apple, they are thieves?
    AMD accuses former staff of giving 100,000 secret documents to NVIDIAIntel Files Suit Over Ex-Employee Who Allegedly Walked Away With Confidential Xeon Files
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    They probably took gigabytes of rounded square icons with them.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    There's no way this is true. Every engineer these days gets lectured over and over again about the danger of IP theft (or even apparent IP theft). This is basically suicide for a new company to base their initial product off blatantly stolen designs.
    Reply