Chip startup Rivos Inc. has filed a countersuit against tech giant Apple. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, follows Apple’s own lawsuit against Rivos and six of its former employees.
While Apple claims that these individuals, by joining Rivos, stole company secrets to develop chips, Rivos is fighting back. Their counter-judicial action claims that Apple’s employment contracts are so far-reaching as to be unenforceable.
The gist of Rivos’ argument is that Apple illegally restricts its employees’ ability to join other companies, thereby stifling the growth of emerging startups. The move, they say, aims to eliminate any form of legitimate competition in the market. Apple has yet to issue a public statement on the matter, Bloomberg reported.
At the center of this dispute is system-on-chip technology, a component that integrates multiple computing elements into a single compact chip. Apple has invested billions in developing this technology, which improves the performance of its devices. However, Rivos accuses Apple of using non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreements to unfairly retain proprietary knowledge and personnel.
The issue is further complicated by Rivos’ assertion that Apple’s intellectual property agreement, which every employee must sign, is so broad that it even prevents the employee from using knowledge acquired during his or her employment. mandate. The deal includes a clause to prevent employees from migrating to competing companies, a move that Rivos says effectively stifles competition.
“Apple attempted to thwart emerging startups with anticompetitive measures, including illegally restricting employee mobility,” Rivos said, as quoted by Bloomberg, in his countersuit.
Apple previously filed a similar lawsuit against Gerard Williams III, co-founder of chip startup Nuvia Inc., alleging the theft of trade secrets. However, the court ultimately dismissed the charges against Williams. Rivos says Apple is applying the same tactics to his case that it used against Nuvia.
This isn’t the first time Apple’s trade secret claims have been called into question. In August, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila dismissed the company’s allegations against Rivos, although Apple was allowed to file a revised complaint.
The pending case is currently being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose. The outcome could set a precedent affecting not only these companies, but potentially the entire technology sector and labor mobility within it.
(With Bloomberg entries)
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