Trade Secret Lawsuit: Apple Intends To Settle With Chip Startup Rivos

Apple intends to resolve a lawsuit alleging that tech startup Rivos misappropriated its trade secrets concerning computer-chip technology, as disclosed in a joint court filing on Friday in California federal court, the media has reported. The companies informed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that they had “signed an agreement that potentially settles the case,” with the agreement granting Apple access to scrutinise Rivos’ systems and retrieve any confidential information, says a report by news agency Reuters.

To recall, in 2022, the iPhone maker had filed a lawsuit against the “stealth” startup Rivos. Apple alleged that Rivos, based in Mountain View, California, had recruited numerous engineers from Apple and utilised confidential information to create competing “system-on-chip” (SoC) technology.

Representatives from both Apple and Rivos did not promptly respond to requests for comment or provide further details regarding the settlement, the report added.

System-on-chip (SoC) refers to integrated circuits containing multiple computer components within a single chip, such as central processing units and graphic processing units. According to Apple’s lawsuit, the company invested billions of dollars and over a decade of research into its SoC designs, which it claims have significantly impacted and transformed the realms of personal and mobile computing.

Earlier in January, Apple had resolved associated claims in the case against six former employees who departed the company to join Rivos. However, Rivos has refuted the accusations and contended that Apple had been attempting to penalise Rivos and any Apple employees interested in joining the startup since learning about it. In September last year, Rivos countersued Apple for unfair competition.

Meanwhile, ex-Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang has been sentenced to prison after admitting guilt to charges of trade secret theft in August 2022. Zhang was previously involved in Apple’s confidential self-driving car project, known as “Project Titan,” where he worked as an engineer on the compute team responsible for creating circuit boards for automotive sensors.

Legal documents indicate that concerns were raised when Zhang left his position at Apple and joined the Chinese auto company Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology, also known as XPeng, in 2018, reports say.