Apple is suing a former employee on accusations he stole and leaked company trade secrets to a journalist to get positive press coverage for his startup, according to court documents filed Thursday.
In the lawsuit, Apple claimed Simon Lancaster, who worked at the company for more than 11 years as an advanced materials engineer and designer, "abused his position and trust within the company" to gain access to sensitive information outside of his job responsibilities.
"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, hurting Apple and our customers," an Apple spokesperson told Insider.
"We take very seriously this individual's deliberate theft of our trade secrets, violation of our ethics and our policies, all for personal gain. We will do all we can to protect the innovations we hold so dear," they added.
Lancaster and Arris Composites, where he has worked since leaving Apple in November 2019, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on this story.
In the lawsuit, first reported on by AppleInsider, Apple claimed Lancaster started corresponding with an unnamed journalist in 2018 and continued to provide them with information about "unreleased Apple hardware products, unannounced feature changes to existing hardware products, and future product announcements."
Lancaster also allegedly asked the journalist to investigate a rumored Apple hardware product that he said "could mean trouble" for his startup, write a story if the startup raised $1 million, and "write a story about a 12-year Apple Design Veteran leaving for an amazing startup."
In October, the journalist allegedly requested information from Lancaster about an unannounced Apple project that the company referred to in the lawsuit as "Project X." Days later, according to the lawsuit, Lancaster submitted his resignation, but then attended a meeting about Project X despite being told by Apple before and during the meeting that he shouldn't be there.
Apple also accused Lancaster in the lawsuit of downloading trade secrets at 10:24 p.m. on his last day of work, less than two hours before his access to Apple's network was set to expire.