Apple Has Sued A Former Employee For Trying To ‘Kill’ Products He Disliked

Apple is suing a former employee for disclosing sensitive information, including unidentified specifics regarding the development of the VisionOS headset, the Journal app, and more, to journalists and staff members of other companies.  

According to the case, which was submitted to a California state court ten days ago (24CV433319, pdf), Andrew Aude also disclosed personnel headcounts, regulatory compliance plans, and other details about his products’ hardware. 

According to the company, as Aude stated he released information “so he could “kill” products and features with which he took issue,” as previously revealed by MacRumors in at least one correspondence. 

Apple cited numerous exchanges in the lawsuit: “Mr. Aude used an encrypted messaging service over 1,400 times between June and September 2023 alone to connect with a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) journalist, whom Mr. Aude code dubbed “Homeboy.” Over the phone, Mr. Aude also read “Homeboy,” the final feature list for an unannounced Apple device. Mr. Aude traveled across the continent to meet with a fellow journalist at The Information, whom he texted more than 10,000 times. 

The complaint includes the following screenshot, which shows an encrypted messaging exchange between Aude and a journalist from the Wall Street Journal. According to Apple, Aude frequently captured and saved screenshots of his chats on his work iPhone, which Apple provided, to preserve them for future reference. 

Apple claims that during a phone conversation with the same reporter in April 2023, Aude disclosed a list of features that had been finished for Apple’s Journal app. The Wall Street Journal published an article that same month detailing the characteristics of the unreleased software. 

Aude became an iOS engineer at Apple in 2016 to enhance battery life. Due to his position, he had access to “information regarding dozens of Apple’s most sensitive products,” according to a statement from Apple’s attorneys. 

The business said the leaks were not discovered until late in 2023. In November 2023, Aude supposedly denied any role in the leaks and claimed he didn’t have his Apple-issued iPhone with him during their initial conversations. Then, during an alleged bathroom break, Aude took his iPhone out of his pocket and deleted a significant amount of evidence—including the Signal app—from the device. 

The complaint states that during a follow-up meeting on December 12th, “Mr. Aude confessed to leaking information regarding Apple’s strategies for regulatory compliance, undisclosed products, development policies, and hardware characteristics of certain released products to at least two journalists.” Three days later, he was fired. As per Apple’s submission, the company is going for a jury trial in which it requests disgorgement of stock options and bonuses, restitution, and damages.  

Moreover, it is requesting “an injunction prohibiting Mr. Aude from disclosing Apple’s confidential and proprietary information to third parties without written consent.” 

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