Apple Rival Rivos Seeks Early End of Trade Secret Misappropriation Case

Defendant Rivos Inc. implored the court overseeing its dispute with Apple Inc. concerning ex-employees’ alleged theft of integrated circuit technology trade secrets to toss the case. Rivos’ moving papers said that Apple’s theory is wholly unsupported by the complaint which it said was “bereft of any allegations that Rivos actually acquired, used, or disclosed any of Apple’s trade secrets.”

The suit dates to April when Apple said that a recent exodus of system-on-chip (SoC) engineers to Rivos raised red flags due to the apparent information some of the more than 40 former Apple workers took with them. Apple explained that it has dedicated billions in funds and years to SoC research and development efforts, making its technology very valuable.

With so much at stake, and after Apple allegedly wrote to Rivos reminding it of former employees’ confidentiality obligations, Apple not only filed suit but also sought a temporary restraining order. Judge Edward J. Davila held a hearing on the matter but has yet to rule on Apple’s request for emergency relief.

In last week’s dismissal motion, Rivos explained that it is developing an SoC using open-source architecture, unique because it seeks to become one of the first companies to “successfully build and commercialize an SOC for data centers using the open-source RISC-V architecture.” The motion also claimed that though Apple deems it a competitor, the only market in which the two companies compete is the market for employees.

Substantively, the motion said that Apple’s complaint falls short by failing to allege ownership of any trade secret, direct and indirect misappropriation, and damages. Rivos argued that Apple’s targeting of two former employees in particular, one of whom moved to dismiss in a separate motion, is a meritless attack on their right to exercise employment mobility.

Rivos then accused Apple of “[s]tretching mightily,” by asking the court to assume that the two former employees and other anonymous ones were likely to make use of Apple’s trade secrets in the course of their employment at Rivos. This theory of inevitable disclosure, “has been so thoroughly rejected by the courts that proceeding under the theory exposes Apple to sanctions,” Rivos ventured.

Lastly, the defendant urged the court not to indulge Apple’s request for discovery, calling it a “fishing expedition” through its own proprietary information for evidence Apple hopes will support its case.

Apple is represented by Morrison & Foerster LLP and Rivos by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.