Chip startup Rivos is countersuing Apple, claiming the tech giant forces employees to sign restrictive agreements that prevent them from working elsewhere and stifle up-and-coming companies that hire its staff, reports Bloomberg.

The countersuit filed Friday by Rivos and six ex-Apple employees in a San Jose federal court “escalates an acrimonious trade secret feud that began when Apple last year sued Rivos and former employees who joined the startup,” the article adds. Rivos is pushing back by asking the court to rule that Apple’s “overbroad” non-disclosure and non-solicit agreements are unenforceable.

Apple sued the startup last year after it hired numerous employees from Apple’s chip design unit. Rivos last week laid off nearly two dozen employees, 6% of staff, and its leaders made comments to remaining staff implying it had limited access to new capital. Its co-founders separately told some staff that Apple’s lawsuit against the company and several of its ex-Apple employees had affected its fundraising process, according to The Information. 

On August 14, it was reported by The Spokesman-Review that a US judge had cleared the way for Apple’s lawsuit against Rivos to move forward, saying Apple had “sufficiently identified” a trade secret it accuses Rivos of stealing, according to.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose said there was enough evidence of “sufficient harm” by Rivos and three former employees for the lawsuit to continue. The judge rejected Rivos’s request to dismiss a Defend Trade Secrets act claim as well as a breach of contract claim against five former Apple employees. Davila also allowed Apple to file amended claims.

Apple’s lawsuit — filed in May 2022 — says Mountain View, California-based Rivos has hired over 40 of its former employees in the past year to work on competing “system-on-chip” (SoC) technology, and that at least two former Apple engineers took gigabytes of confidential information with them to Rivos.

Article provided with permission from AppleWorld.Today