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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Apple’s chip trade-secrets suit against start-up can move forward, judge rules

Customers browse Apple iPhone 14 smartphones at a JB Hi-Fi store in Sydney, Australia, last year.  (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)
By Patricia Hurtado and Malathi Nayak Bloomberg

Apple’s suit alleging start-up Rivos poached its engineers to steal trade secrets used to develop its homegrown chip designs can move forward, a federal judge in California ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose said Apple had “sufficiently identified” a trade secret and alleged “sufficient harm” by Rivos and three former employees.

The judge rejected Rivos’s request to dismiss a Defend Trade Secrets act claim as well as a breach of contract claim against five former Apple employees.

The dispute revolves around “system-on-chip” technology that shrinks multiple computer elements into a small chip, which Apple says it has invested billions of dollars in to make its devices more powerful.

Davila dismissed some trade secrets claims against six employees and a breach of contract claim against one employee.

The judge allowed Apple to file amended claims.

Apple claimed in the suit filed last year that Rivos, which has hired dozens of Apple engineers, began a “coordinated campaign” in June 2021 to target its employees.

The former employees left and joined Rivos after stealing “highly-sensitive” proprietary and trade secret information about Apple’s “system-on-chip” designs, including its M1 laptop and A15 mobile phone chips, according to the complaint.