Apple Sues Ex-Employee for Allegedly Leaking Info to Press

Apple has filed a lawsuit against former employee Andrew Aude, over allegations of sharing confidential company information with external parties, specifically journalists.

The case accuses Aude of a comprehensive breach of the Intellectual Property Agreement he had with Apple, alongside other serious accusations.

Apple’s filing states (via MacRumors), “Despite his contractual and other legal obligations, Mr. Aude repeatedly flouted his promise to keep Apple’s information confidential.”

The company alleges that Aude disclosed “highly sensitive information about Apple’s business practices, internal policies, and products—including those not yet released—with employees at other technology companies and at least three national journalists.”

The extent of Aude’s leaks over a five-year span involving “more than a half-dozen different Apple policies and products including (in his own words) ‘top secret’ information without authorization to do so.”

One of the most damning pieces of evidence against Aude includes his interaction with a Wall Street Journal journalist, codenamed “Homeboy,” with whom Aude chatted with over 1,400 times through the encrypted messaging app Signal between June and September 2023.

In April 2023, the WSJ’s Aaron Tilley published a story that said Apple was going to release a Journaling app, which turned out to be true.

Aude also sent over 10,000 text messages to another journalist at The Information, plus also meeting up with the latter.

“Mr. Aude’s leaks were no accident. In connection with one leak, Mr. Aude admitted that he violated his obligations to Apple so he could ‘kill’ products and features with which he took issue,” says Apple’s lawsuit.

Aude’s attempt to erase his tracks during an internal investigation by “extract[ing] his iPhone from his pocket during the break and permanently deleted significant amounts of evidence from his device” is noted in the lawsuit (he went to the bathroom mid-interview).

“Apple does not bring suit against its former employees lightly. As a result of Mr. Aude’s willful destruction of evidence, however, Apple cannot know the universe of what he disclosed to whom and when. Before filing this lawsuit, Apple reached out to Mr. Aude to potentially resolve this matter. Over a month ago, Apple contacted Mr. Aude to understand the full scope of his leaks and ask for his full cooperation in resolving this matter without litigation. Mr. Aude, however, did not commit to cooperating,” wrote Apple.

The lawsuit aims not only to prevent Aude from further disclosures but also seeks remedies for the alleged damages. Apple is requesting “injunctive relief, damages, punitive damages, and disgorgement of Mr. Aude’s discretionary bonuses, discretionary [restricted stock units] including unvested RSUs and shares underlying vested RSUs, and/or the cash equivalent.”

It’s not looking good for Aude based on the lawsuit filing. This action by Apple is to ensure no company secrets leak, therefore taking away the surprise factor ahead of new product launches.

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