Apple sues Rivos, a “stealth” startup, for SoC stealing trade secrets worth billions of dollars

Apple has filed a lawsuit against a “stealth” startup, Rivos at California federal court. The Cupertino tech giant has accused the company of poaching over 40 former Apple employees who allegedly took trade secrets to develop competing SoC (system-on-chip) technology.

Established in 2021, Rivos is a “stealth mode” company situation in Mountain View, California. Stealth mode is referred to a company’s temporary state of secretiveness when it does not want to disclose its field of business to avoid gaining the attention of competitors and work on its product(s) secretly.

M1 chip

Apple names two former employees who stole data on SoC in Rivos lawsuit

SoC is the technology that houses several components, including the CPU and GPU on a single chip like the A-series chip for iPhones and the M1 chip for Macs. According to Reuters, the tech giant claims that it spent billions of dollars in developing the SoC technology which “revolutionized the personal and mobile computing worlds.”

The tech company accuses Rivo of “purposely” seeking Apple engineers with access to its SoC trade secrets and alleges that two former engineers, Ricky Wen and Bhasi Kaithamana, stole thousands of files on SoC designs and other confidential data from the company for Rivos, along with other unnamed former employees.

The lawsuit also said several other unnamed Rivos employees took confidential documents when they left Apple, and that the defendants tried to cover their tracks by wiping data from their Apple-issued devices

Apple said its secrets could be used to “significantly accelerate” the development of competing SoCs. It asked the court to block Rivos from using its trade secrets, order its former employees to return its property, and award it an undisclosed amount of money damages.

M1 chip - Apple

This is not the first instance of the tech giant going after its former employees who allegedly stole its intellectual property. In March this year, the company filed a lawsuit against Dhirendra Prasad for defrauding more than $10 million from the tech giant by exploiting his position as the buyer. And in 2021, the tech giant sued Simon Lancaster for violating its trade secrets laws and nondisclosure policies.

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