Apple is taking legal action against its former materials manager, Simon Lancaster, for alleged disclosure of trade secrets.
Apple filed a lawsuit against Simon Lancaster for allegedly leaking trade secrets to the media. The company accuses the former employee of abusing his “position and trust within the company to systematically disclose Apple’s confidential information in an attempt to gain personal gain.”
As AppleInsider first reported, the court document detailing the lawsuit was released on Thursday. Lancaster would use his role as an executive at Apple to “gain access to internal meetings and documents outside the scope of his job” as a material manager within the company. According to the iPhone maker, during his last day at the company, November 1, 2019, he allegedly downloaded a “considerable number” of confidential documents.
Lancaster left Apple after more than a decade to join the materials research and development firm Arris, which is actually an Apple supplier. The trade secrets he stole from the Cupertino giant continued to benefit him in his new position in Arris, the report explains.
But things get even more interesting when the media aspect of this story comes into play. The lawsuit explains that the reporter first contacted Lancaster in November 2018, a year before leaving Apple. Due to these repeated contacts with the reporter, the company led by Tim Cook claims that Lancaster traded trade secrets throughout 2018 and 2019.
After resigning from Apple, Lancaster “delved into” his relationship with the media correspondent he was speaking to, and the company’s internal investigation of Apple-owned devices that Lancaster returned after the relationship ended suggested who disclosed “specific Apple trade secrets” to the reporter.
Additionally, the forensic review of the devices Apple provided Lancaster for his work at the company shows that the employee and correspondent coordinated to steal specific documents and product information. On numerous occasions, the correspondent had requested Lancaster to obtain specific documents and information on Apple’s trade secrets. Lancaster then sent the correspondent some of the confidential materials requested using Apple-owned devices. On other occasions, Lancaster has met with the correspondent in person to provide him with the confidential information requested.
According to Apple, the information Lancaster shared included details of “Apple hardware products not released, unannounced changes to the functionality of existing hardware products, and announcements of future products”.
Apple doesn’t provide details on Lancaster’s leaked products, but many of the leaks occurred right around October and November 2019 and involved what Apple calls “Project X”. Immediately after Lancaster’s departure, in fact, the former employee spoke to the reporter to whom he leaked the details, congratulating the person on the success of an article that contained details he leaked.
Like all Apple employees, Lancaster signed a “Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Agreement” before being hired that prohibits them from sharing confidential and proprietary information , and attended “security training” and “business conduct” events. focused on preventing theft of secret documents.
Apple is now looking for the damages suffered as a result of the trade secrets Lancaster stole and plans to determine the amount at trial. Apple also wants to recover from Lancaster all the earnings, profits and benefits it has gained through the theft of documents.