Apple has filed a legal case against ex-employee, here’s why

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Apple lawsuit against ex-engineer Andrew Aude exposes leaks of confidential Apple details, leading to legal action seeking damages and injunction to prevent further breaches of trust.

In a legal battle that pits tech giant against one of its own, Apple has filed a lawsuit against Andrew Aude, a former iOS software engineer. The allegations? Breach of confidentiality agreements and leaking sensitive information about Apple’s unreleased products.

According to court documents filed in the Superior Court of California, Aude stands accused of divulging details about several Apple projects.

Among them, the most prominent is the Journal app, which was still under wraps at the time of the leaks. The app’s features, design, and purpose were all exposed prematurely, much to Apple’s chagrin. Aude has been sacked by the company but Apple said that he “poses an ongoing threat based on his knowledge of Apple’s confidential and proprietary information.”

Aude’s indiscretions extended beyond the Journal app. He allegedly spilled the beans on Apple’s strategies for regulatory compliance, a topic deemed “top secret” within the company. Additionally, he disclosed information about Apple’s development efforts in the spatial computing space—a field where Apple maintains a veil of secrecy. He did so in 2020 to a non-Apple employee and that was close to three years before Vision Pro — Apple’s first spatial computing device as launched.

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Aude’s leaks weren’t confined to internal communications. He engaged in thousands of encrypted conversations with journalists from The Wall Street Journal and The Information. One journalist, referred to as “Homeboy,” received over 1,400 messages from Aude. Their exchanges included sensitive details about Apple’s upcoming products, all while Aude was well aware of their confidential nature.

The lawsuit cites specific instances where Aude shared classified information. For instance, he read an email containing the final feature list for an unannounced Apple app to a WSJ journalist over the phone, despite the email’s explicit confidentiality warning. Another time, he corroborated rumours about an unreleased Apple device’s design feature with a non-Apple employee, betraying the company’s trust.

Apple’s legal team asserts that Aude’s actions jeopardised the company’s competitive edge and violated the trust placed in him as an employee. The lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction to prevent further leaks. “Apple learned of Mr. Aude’s misconduct in the fall of 2023. When Apple met with him to discuss his improper disclosures, Mr. Aude promptly confirmed his guilt through his actions, if not his words. At the start of his November 7, 2023 interview, Mr. Aude repeatedly denied that he had leaked any information to anyone. He also claimed that he did not have his Apple-issued work iPhone with him,” Apple noted in the complaing.

“Feigning the need to visit the bathroom mid-interview, Mr. Aude then extracted his iPhone from his pocket during the break and permanently deleted significant amounts of evidence from his device,” Apple further said.

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