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Apple settles with former employee accused of stealing trade secrets

Apple settles with former employee accused of stealing trade secrets

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Apple alleged that a former design architect took trade secrets and shared them with a journalist.

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Apple has settled its lawsuit against Simon Lancaster.
Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

Apple has settled its lawsuit against Simon Lancaster, a former design architect, who the company accused of stealing trade secrets and sharing them with a journalist. The company filed its suit in March 2021, and the settlement order was approved by a judge this week.

“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,” Apple wrote in its original complaint. “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.”

Lancaster and the correspondent first made contact in November 2018, according to Apple’s complaint, and the company accused Lancaster of sharing details of unreleased hardware, unannounced feature changes, and future product announcements with the correspondent. Apple also alleged that Lancaster downloaded confidential documents just before leaving the company in November 2019 that would “assist his new employer,” Arris Composites. (Lancaster left Arris in 2021, according to his LinkedIn.)

As part of the settlement, Lancaster will pay an undisclosed sum to Apple and is barred from “disclosing, communicating, transferring, discussing, or using any Confidential Information, in any form, without Apple’s express prior written authorization,” according to the order. Apple didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

In an emailed statement to The Verge, Lancaster said that the journalist he was working with was Wayne Ma at The Information. Here is his full statement:

“Around the time that I left Apple, I shared Apple information with Wayne Ma at The Information. I never thought Apple would find out or that there would be repercussions because I never sought or gained anything from it. I was wrong and it certainly wasn’t worth it. I regret and accept responsibility for my actions. I messed up and my mistake will follow me for years. To my former Apple colleagues who have been working hard on Apple projects and keeping them secret, I’m very sorry.”

Update November 7th, 11:14AM ET: Added statement from Lancaster.