Monday, September 25, 2023

Apple settles with former employee accused of stealing trade secrets

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Apple has filed a lawsuit against Simon Lancaster, a former design architect, who accused the company of stealing trade secrets and sharing them with a journalist. The company filed its lawsuit in March 2021 and the settlement order was approved by a judge this week.

“Despite more than a decade of employment with Apple, Lancaster abused his position and trust within the company to systematically disseminate Apple’s sensitive trade secrets in an effort to obtain personal benefits,” Apple wrote in the original complaint. “He used his seniority to access internal meetings and documents that contained Apple’s trade secrets outside of his job responsibilities, and he disclosed those trade secrets to his external media correspondent.”

Lancaster and the unnamed correspondent first made contact in November 2018, according to Apple’s complaint, and the company accused Lancaster of sharing details about unreleased hardware, unannounced feature changes and future product announcements with the correspondent. Apple also claimed that Lancaster downloaded confidential documents just before he left the company in November 2019, which would help “his new employer”, Arris Composites. (Lancaster left Arris in 2021, according to his LinkedIn.)

As part of the settlement, Lancaster will pay an undisclosed amount to Apple and is prohibited from “disclosing, communicating, transferring, discussing or using confidential information in any form without the express prior written consent of from Apple,” the order said. Apple and Lancaster did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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