Apple settles trade secret theft lawsuit with former employee

Side of Apple Park building
(Image credit: Apple)

As with most tech companies, Apple is very protective about its intellectual property. In March 2021, we saw the company sue its former materials lead Simon Lancaster. The lawsuit alleged that Lancaster sold Apple’s trade secrets to the media, in exchange for favorable coverage for his startup.

Apple has now reportedly settled that lawsuit, says a new report from The Verge. A judge approved the settlement order this week. According to the settlement, Lancaster has to pay an undisclosed sum to the company, and agree to not deal with any confidential information related to Apple without the company’s permission.

The settlement (as we know it)

The original lawsuit accused Lancaster of accessing information that was not related to his job at Apple. He had access to that information because of his seniority. He allegedly used this information to leverage coverage for a startup called Arris Composites, which he was employed with after leaving Apple. 

The original complaint from Apple said:

“Despite over a decade of employment at Apple, Lancaster abused his position and trust within the company to systematically disseminate Apple's sensitive trade secret information in an effort to obtain personal benefits. He used his seniority to gain access to internal meetings and documents outside the scope of his job's responsibilities containing Apple's trade secrets, and he provided these trade secrets to his outside media correspondent.”

The settlement order doesn’t specify how much money Lancaster has to pay Apple, but it does mention that he’s “enjoined from disclosing, communicating, transferring, discussing, or using any Confidential Information, in any form, without Apple’s express prior written authorization”.

Apple also has another similar lawsuit ongoing, where a former Apple engineer who was working on the Apple Car has pleaded guilty to trade secret theft. With major leaks happening around popular Apple products including the best iPhones and best iPads, we might see more such lawsuits in the coming times.

Palash Volvoikar

Palash has been a technology and entertainment journalist since 2013. Starting with Android news and features, he has also worked as the news head for Wiki of Thrones, and a freelance writer for Windows Central, Observer, MakeUseOf, MySmartPrice, ThinkComputers, and others. He also worked as a writer and journalist for Android Authority, covering computing, before returning to freelancing all over town.