Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Apple agrees to settle with Rivos in chip trade secret theft lawsuit

Apple's M1 Max SoC

Apple may have reached a potential settlement to end its legal battles with the startup Rivos, which it previously accused of stealing trade secrets and poaching employees.

Apple sued Rivos in 2022, accusing it of taking engineers and trade secrets concerning its chip designs, so the stealth startup could refine its own product. Close to two years later, the two companies are finally close to ending the litigious fighting.

In a joint court filing with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seen by Reuters, Apple and Rivos have "signed an agreement that potentially settles the case." As part of the agreement, there is a provision for "remediation of Apple confidential information based on a forensic examination of Rivos systems and other activities."

Apple and Rivos ask for the Court to stay the action and to vacate all pending deadlines through to March 15, 2024, which is when activities that form part of the settlement is expected to conclude.

Document theft claims

In the initial lawsuit, Apple alleged a pair of employees took gigabytes of files from Apple for use by Rivos. The theft is said to have included thousands of documents about Apple's internal projects and some for its system-on-chip designs.

While two were named in the original lawsuit, other employees who joined Rivos from Apple were said to have been doing similar theft, including one using AirDrop and multiple USB drives, and another taking advantage of a Time Machine backup. Rivos was also accused of telling some employees to use encrypted messaging apps, while some also tried covering their tracks by deleting data and wiping drives.

One employee was found to have conducted internet searches for "when you lost a lawsuit what do you have to pay" and "poach[ing] people after a year leaving [a] company." They had also looked up information about attorneys' fees for losing parties.

A year later, Rivos countersued, accusing Apple of putting their employees into restrictive contracts that prevent them from seeking employment elsewhere.

Apple has since settled a number of related claims against six former employees who moved over to Rivos.