While intellectual property and corporate secrets are reserved matters for any company, Apple is known to be especially suspicious about how it handles its information.
The bitten apple company claims that some of its trade secrets were being sold to journalists by Simon Lancaster, a former product design architect, who among his portfolio has the sketches of some MacBook Pro and other products.
Apple confidential data leak ended in a lawsuit against the designer who released the information
Apple filed a lawsuit against Simon Lancaster, a former product design architect for the company, accused of trading corporate secrets and details about non-commercially available Apple products to an anonymous reporter.
Lancaster did this to boost his career, after leaving Apple in 2019.
The designer worked on the 13-inch and 15-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar, along with other “unreleased Apple products” and a series of more than 40 patents, according to a press release announcing his arrival at Arris Composites, after leaving Apple.
The lawsuit was revealed by Appleinsider. According to the court filing, Lancaster and his allied reporter began communicating in 2018, with a focus on the possibility of obtaining information. Lancaster contacted his correspondent sometime later, in the first half of 2019, asking him to investigate rumors of a possible Apple product that could “spell trouble for his startup.”
The lawsuit claims Lancaster bragged to a third party shortly after that conversation, asserting that his media contact would be writing a story about his business if he reached $1 million in funding.
In October 2019, Lancaster informed your correspondent that he planned to resign from Apple, providing secret information about Apple products and asking if they wanted to “write a story about a 12-year Apple design veteran leaving for an amazing startup.” Allegedly, the negotiation of this broadcast moves hinged on a key step by Lancaster: providing additional information about an unreported project before the public, which Apple refers to as “Project X.”
The submission of the designer’s resignation materialized on October 15 of that same year, and after that, his contact with the aforementioned reporter continued to be active. The next day, Lancaster allegedly leaked documents that were requested before he made his departure from the company effective.
Apple’s disclaimers after filing the lawsuit
Delving deeper into the case, Apple shared its impressions in an interview with The Verge, noting that “tens of thousands of Apple employees work tirelessly every day on new products, services, and features in the hopes of delighting our customers and empowering them to change the world. Stealing ideas and confidential information undermines their efforts, harming Apple and our customers.” The spokesperson for the company founded by Jobs and Wozniak also commented that “we take this individual’s deliberate theft of our trade secrets, violation of our ethics and our policies, all for personal gain, very seriously. We will do everything we can to protect the innovations we hold so dear.”
According to Apple’s statement in the lawsuit, Lancaster attended a meeting specifically about the sensitive and previously mentioned “Project X,” even though he was advised not to after submitting his notice of resignation. He allegedly entered to obtain more information to be shared with his contact in the press.
Lancaster’s official termination of his duties at Apple was finalized on November 1, 2019. Until just before the expiration of this period, the designer allegedly used his Apple credentials to download, from an off-site location, confidential information that would be useful to his new employer, according to the plaintiff company.
Lancaster had been with Apple since 2008 as an advanced materials leader and later as a product design architect. Following his resignation, he joined the ranks of Arris Composites, a materials design firm, as its head of consumer products.