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Apple Sues Startup for Allegedly Stealing Chip Secrets


If you search for a company called Rivos Inc, you won’t get much from their website. But on the landing page, there is a bold, curious, and provocative statement: “Rivos is a startup in stealth mode!”

Rivos, a computer chip startup, might be in stealth mode, still unremarkable and not very imposing, but it’s causing some big boys, specifically Apple, leviathan headaches. First, the company went on an employee-hunting escapade that robbed Apple of a bunch of crème-de-raceme engineers.

Apple reports the number of engineers who took on an exodus to be more than forty since June 2021. That’s not the issue, really, but the fact that most of them were at the core of the company’s system-on-chip (SoC) designs. This basically means they are privy to details of what it takes to build chips using Apple’s top-notch, top-secret formulae, and that’s what the iPhone, iPad and iPod maker is protesting.

Rivos was founded in 2021, and the lineup of its top executive is an A-list of engineers who formally worked for nearly all giant tech firms.

For instance, Brian Campbell, one of the founders, worked for P.A Semi, a company that Apple acquired.HE became the Director of Hardware Technologies, a very senior position that put him in charge of chips designed for iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Macs, and Airpods.

Then there is Belli Kuttana, the CTO and co-founder. Ben’s career has seen him cross from Motorolla to Sun Microsystems and Qualcomm before landing at Intel, where he became an Intel Fellow and Chief Architect of The New Technology Group.

Mark Hayter is yet another former Apple employee now at Rivos as a co-founder. After his tenure at Apple,he founded Agnilux a firm that was acquired by Google, where he became a Google Engineering Director.

Precisely, the team driving Rivos consists of incredibly talented individuals who have had storied careers within the technology ecosystem.

Apple filed a lawsuit in California, accusing the Santa Clara and Austin-based company of mounting a “coordinated campaign to target Apple employees with access to Apple proprietary and trade secret information about Apple’s SoC designs.” States the lawsuit.

Therefore, by taking Rivos to court, Apple intends to “prevent Rivos and its employees from exploiting Apple’s most valuable trade secrets to compete with Apple unlawfully and unfairly.”

There are several angles to this and other related cases. First, Apple’s case isn’t the first and might be worth pursuing. On the other hand, observers say, it might be used by big firms to weaken competitors, especially when the competitor is a lesser rival.

The proceedings and outcome of this case is undoubtedly something that tech enthusiasts will want to keep tabs on.

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Simon W Nderitu

Simon is a tech enthusiast who keeps a close eye on emerging technologies, startups and the general business environment. You will often catch him totally immersed and drooling over Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, IoT and just about any other tech that promises to revolutionize the way we live. Send tips to snderitu@techtrendske.co.ke

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