Apple May Settle Lawsuit with Startup over Trade Secret Theft

Apple has potentially agreed to a settlement with Rivos, a Mountain View-based startup it accused in 2022 of poaching its staff and pilfering its business secrets. The two companies informed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, according to filings viewed by news outlets, that they have drawn up an agreement that may end the legal dispute. The proposed settlement would permit Apple to carry out a forensic analysis of Rivos’ systems, in addition to investigating its operations.

When Apple initiated a lawsuit against Rivos, it alleged the startup embarked on an orchestrated effort to recruit talent from its chip design team. It also claimed Rivos induced these new recruits to steal presentations and proprietary details regarding unlaunched iPhone chip designs costing billions to engineer. In a countermove last year, Rivos sued Apple, alleging that the bigger firm inhibited its former employees’ freedom to seek work elsewhere and suppressed the growth of fledgling startups via anticompetitive practices.

The court in April 2023 dismissed Apple’s allegations of trade secret violations against Rivos, although it permitted the tech giant to amend and resubmit its complaint. Last month, Apple achieved an agreement with six of its ex-workers who, along with Rivos, initiated a countersuit against Apple; the parties dropped their respective claims against each other. Currently, both corporations are asking the court to postpone their suits until March 15, by which time they anticipate the settlement process will be finalized.