Apple Gains Footing in Court Feud With Former iPhone Chip Architect

A former Apple executive who worked on the chips that power iPhones and iPads has had a request to toss a breach-of-contract lawsuit brought by the company rejected by the court in a tentative ruling.


Last August, Apple sued its former A-series chip lead, Gerard Williams III, for breach of employment contract. Williams was the lead designer of Apple's custom ‌iPhone‌ and ‌iPad‌ chips from the A7 to A12X, before he departed the company in March 2019 to start his own chip company, Nuvia Inc, with two other former Apple chip executives.

Apple accuses him of breaching the contract because it barred him from planning or engaging in any business activities that are "competitive or directly related to Apple's business or products." Williams argues that a provision in the contract conflicts with a California law that allows workers to develop new businesses while they're employed elsewhere.

However, Bloomberg today reports that Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce said the law doesn't permit an employee "to plan and prepare to create a competitive enterprise prior to termination if the employee does so on their employer's time and with the employer's resources."

The judge also dismissed a claim by Williams that Apple invaded his privacy by reviewing text messages he wrote to coworkers that were critical of the company. In one of the messages, Williams is said to have claimed that Apple would have "no choice but to purchase" his new company.
Williams sought to have those texts excluded as evidence in the suit. Pierce disagreed. "There are no allegations in the complaint establishing that the text messages were obtained as the result of eavesdropping upon or recording a confidential communication," he wrote.
The judge sided with Williams in dismissing Apple's bid for punitive damages, saying the company has failed to show how Williams intentionally tried to harm Apple by being disloyal.

Bloomberg notes that the tentative ruling on regarding the California law doesn't address the merits of Apple’s claims, but it will allow the company to proceed with pretrial information-sharing if the judge decides to make it final.

Claude Stern, Williams' lawyer, said he would contest the judge's findings at a hearing in San Jose on Tuesday. He argues that Williams can't be sued for simply coming up with a new business idea while working at Apple, as opposed to taking inventions he worked on that belong to his previous employer.

Tag: lawsuit

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Apple and M. Night Shyamalan Sued Over ‘Servant’ TV Show’s Similarity to 2013 Movie ‘The Truth About Emanuel’

Apple and M. Night Shyamalan, producer of Apple TV+ show "Servant," are being targeted in a new lawsuit that accuses "Servant" of copying 2013 film "The Truth About Emanuel," according to The Blast.

"The Truth About Emanuel" director Francesca Gregorini claims that "Servant" appropriates the plot of her movie and uses the same "cinematic language," resulting in a "substantially similar feeling, mood, and theme."


Along with parallel plot points, Gregorini says that Servant also features "strikingly similar--and highly idiosyncratic--characters, scenes, directorial choices, and modes of storytelling."

Released in 2013 with Kaya Scoddelario and Jessica Biel, "The Truth About Emanuel" involves a 17-year-old babysitter who looks after a baby that turns out to be a doll replacing a baby that has died, which is indeed similar to the plot of "Servant."


The lawsuit targets ‌Apple TV‌+, show creator Tony Basgallop, producer M. Night Shyamalan, and other producers on the series. Shyamalan and the other show creators say that "Servant" was in development prior to the release of "The Truth About Emanuel."
"Defendants have arrogantly dismissed Ms. Gregorini's protests by vaguely claiming that Servant was in development long before Emanuel was made, and that any similarity is a coincidence. Indeed, Mr. Shyamalan and Mr. Basgallop implausibly claim they have never seen Emanuel--apparently not even curious enough to watch after hearing Ms. Gregorini's objections. Worse, Apple has brought stonewalling to a new level by simply referring inquiries to Mr. Shyamalan's lawyer (who in turns says he cannot speak for Apple)."
Gregorini is seeking unspecified damages, profits Apple made from the show, and an injunction to prevent "Servant" from being further distributed.

"Servant," which debuted on November 28, is wrapping up its first season with the final episode set to be released on Friday, January 17. Apple has already renewed the series for a second season. Given that the show is still in development and the last episode hasn't debuted, it's not yet known how similar it will end up being to the movie in question.

Based on the description of the film, there already seem to be significantly divergent plot elements, so it's not clear how the lawsuit will progress.


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Masimo Sues Apple for Stealing Trade Secrets for Health Monitoring Functions in Apple Watch

Masimo, a medical technology company that designs pulse oximetry devices, has filed a lawsuit against Apple accusing the Cupertino company of stealing trade secrets and improperly using Masimo inventions related to health monitoring in the Apple Watch.

According to Bloomberg, Masimo claims that Apple stole secret information by pretending to have a working relationship with Masimo, and then hiring Masimo employees. Masimo also believes the ‌Apple Watch‌ is infringing on 10 Masimo patents.


Masimo, and its spinoff company Cercacor, claim that Masimo's technology for non-invasive health monitoring helped Apple overcome performance issues with the ‌Apple Watch‌. Apple allegedly relied on Masimo tech when developing the light-based heart rate sensor used in the ‌Apple Watch‌, among other technologies.

According to Masimo, Apple first contacted the company in 2013 and asked to meet for a potential collaboration, with Apple asking to "understand more" about Masimo's products to potentially integrate Masimo technology into future Apple devices. After what Masimo considered productive meetings, Apple began hiring away important employees.

Ahead of when the ‌Apple Watch‌ was released, Apple hired Michael O'Reilly, who had served as the Chief Medical Officer and EVP of Medical Affairs at Masimo. He has been working on Health Special Projects at Apple, and had a hand in the development of the ‌Apple Watch‌.

O'Reilly wasn't the only hire from Masimo, as Apple also took on other former Masimo employees along with employees from other health-related companies during the time the ‌Apple Watch‌ was being designed. Marcelo Lamego, who served as CTO of Cercacor, for example, joined Apple not long after O'Reilly.

Masimo says Apple received confidential information from its hires, and launched a targeted effort to obtain "information and expertise."

Masimo and Cercacor are aiming to block further use of their patented inventions and are asking for unspecified damages. The two companies also want to add their engineers to four patents that were granted to Lamego after leaving the Cercacor.

Tag: lawsuit

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Corellium Accuses Apple of Using Lawsuit to ‘Crack Down on Jailbreaking’

Apple is currently involved in a lawsuit against Corellium, a mobile device virtualization company that supports iOS. Apple has accused Corellium of copyright infringement because Corellium creates software designed for security researchers that replicates iOS.

The lawsuit has been ongoing since August, but it is heating up after Apple amended its lawsuit in late December with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) filing, suggesting the Cupertino company believes jailbreaking is a violation of the DMCA. Corellium, says Apple, facilitates jailbreaking through its software.

A virtual ‌iPhone‌ on Corellium's website used as evidence in Apple's lawsuit against the company

Corellium's CEO Amanda Gorton has taken issue with Apple's new filing, and yesterday penned a missive lambasting Apple for its jailbreaking position. "Apple's latest filing against Corellium should give all security researchers, app developers, and jailbreakers reason to be concerned," reads the letter's opening statement.
The filing asserts that because Corellium "allows users to jailbreak" and "gave one or more Persons access... to develop software that can be used to jailbreak," Corellium is "engaging in trafficking" in violation of the DMCA. In other words, Apple is asserting that anyone who provides a tool that allows other people to jailbreak, and anyone who assists in creating such a tool, is violating the DMCA. Apple underscores this position by calling the unc0ver jailbreak tool "unlawful" and stating that it is "designed to circumvent [the] same technological measures" as Corellium.
Gorton accuses Apple of using its Corellium lawsuit to "crack down on jailbreaking" and claims Apple is seeking a precedent to eliminate public jailbreaks. She says that Corellium is "deeply disappointed" by Apple's "demonization of jailbreaking" as developers and researchers "rely on jailbreaks" to test the security of their own apps and third-party apps. She further claims that Apple has benefited from jailbreaking by turning jailbreak tweaks into ‌iPhone‌ features.
Not only do researchers and developers rely on jailbreaking to protect end users, but Apple itself has directly benefited from the jailbreak community in a number of ways. Many of the features of iOS originally appeared as jailbreak tweaks and were copied by Apple, including dark mode, control center, and context menus.

In addition, jailbreak creators regularly contribute to the security of iOS. The developer behind the unc0ver jailbreak was acknowledged and credited by Apple for assisting with a security vulnerability in the iOS kernel - a vulnerability he discovered while using Corellium.
Gorton says that Corellium is prepared to "strongly defend" against Apple's attack, and looks forward to sharing a formal response to Apple's claims in court.

Apple is continuing to seek a permanent injunction to prevent Corellium from offering a product that replicates the iOS operating system. Apple wants Corellium to destroy all infringing materials that it has collected, and pay Apple damages, lost profits, and attorney fees.

Tag: lawsuit

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Law Firm Sues Apple and Samsung, Claiming Phones Exceed Radiofrequency Radiation Safety Levels

Chicago-based law firm Fegan Scott has levied a lawsuit against both Apple and Samsung, claiming that independent testing suggests the radiofrequency radiation levels in recent smartphones "far exceeded the federal limits" when used "as marketed by the manufacturers."

The basis for this lawsuit dates back to August, when The Chicago Tribune launched an investigation into the radiofrequency radiation levels output by popular smartphones.

RF Radiation Testing Results from a Chicago Times Investigation in August

The paper hired an accredited lab to test several smartphones according to federal guidelines, and found that some of Apple's iPhones are allegedly emitting radiofrequency radiation that exceeds safety limits.

Apple disputed the results and in a statement, said that the testing was inaccurate "due to the test setup not being in accordance with procedures necessary to properly assess the ‌iPhone‌ models."
"All ‌‌iPhone‌‌ models, including ‌‌iPhone‌‌ 7, are fully certified by the FCC and in every other country where ‌‌iPhone‌‌ is sold," the statement said. "After careful review and subsequent validation of all ‌‌iPhone‌‌ models tested in the (Tribune) report, we confirmed we are in compliance and meet all applicable ... exposure guidelines and limits."
At the time, the FCC said that it would launch its own investigation into the results, and a day after The Chicago Tribune published its findings, the Fegan Scott law firm pledged to launch its own investigation into the claims.

Fegan Scott enlisted an FCC-accredited laboratory to do its own testing of six smartphone models at distances ranging from zero to 10 millimeters to measure the radiofrequency radiation emitted when touching or in close proximity to the body.

The lab that did the testing claims that at two millimeters, the iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 were "more than twice the federal exposure limit" and at zero millimeters, the ‌iPhone 8‌ was "five times more than the federal exposure limit."

After receiving the results, Fegan Scott has decided to launch an official lawsuit against both Apple and Samsung covering the ‌iPhone‌ 7 Plus, the ‌iPhone 8‌, the iPhone XR, the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy S9, and the Galaxy S10. From attorney Beth Fegan:
"Apple and Samsung smartphones have changed the way we live. Adults, teenagers and children wake up to check their email or play games and do work or school exercises on their smartphones. They carry these devices in their pockets throughout the day and literally fall asleep with them in their beds."

"The manufacturers told consumers this was safe, so we knew it was important to test the RF radiation exposure and see if this was true. It is not true. The independent results confirm that RF radiation levels are well over the federal exposure limit, sometimes exceeding it by 500 percent, when phones are used in the way Apple and Samsung encourage us to. Consumers deserve to know the truth."
According to Fegan Scott, the testing conducted by the lab reflects "actual use conditions" rather than the "conditions set by manufacturers," which means the testing was likely not done in the same way that Apple does its own internal testing. Apple, for example, tests at 5mm, not 0mm and 2mm.

The Chicago Tribune's original testing was done in a manner to simulate the worst possible scenario, with the phone operating in low signal and full power to create the maximum radiofrequency radiation level. It's not clear how the law firm's testing was carried out.

There is no evidence that radiofrequency radiation levels above the federal limits have the potential to cause harm, so consumers should not be alarmed at this time. The FCC is doing its own independent testing and those results should provide more insight into the safety of smartphones.

Apple tells its customers worried about radiofrequency radiation exposure to use a hands-free option, and some past ‌iPhone‌ models have included recommended carrying distances. With the ‌iPhone‌ 4 and 4s, for example, Apple said the smartphones should be held at least 10mm away from the body, and there was a similar suggestion made for the ‌iPhone‌ 7.

The lawsuit is seeking damages from Apple as well as funds to pay for medical monitoring.

Tag: lawsuit

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Lawsuit Against Apple’s Faulty Butterfly Keyboards Moves Forward

A federal judge this week rejected Apple's request to dismiss a class action lawsuit over its faulty butterfly keyboards, reports Reuters, which means the lawsuit will proceed.

The complainants believe that Apple knew of and concealed the fact that its 2015 and later MacBook models had keyboards prone to failure and that its repair program does not serve as an effective fix because replacement butterfly keyboards can also fail.


San Jose District Judge Edward Davila said that Apple must face the claims that the repair program is inadequate or compensate customers for their out-of-pocket expenses for repairs.

The lawsuit covers customers who purchased 2015 MacBook models or later and 2016 MacBook Pro models or later, which includes all machines that are equipped with Apple's butterfly keyboard. Apple has faced public scrutiny and many, many complaints over the butterfly keyboard's penchant to fail when exposed to dust and other small particulates.

Apple launched a repair program that covers all of its MacBook, ‌MacBook Pro‌, and MacBook Air models that have a butterfly keyboard, but at the current time, all keyboard replacements are also butterfly keyboards.

Apple has attempted to revise the butterfly keyboard several times to make it more durable, but ultimately, it's still prone to failure.


With the recently released 16-inch MacBook Pro Apple eliminated the butterfly mechanism and reverted to a more reliable scissor mechanism, but the new 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ keyboard is limited to that machine and older models are still getting repairs with butterfly keyboards.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for violations of consumer protection laws in several dates. Benjamin Johns, lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Reuters that he's pleased with the decision and looks forward to pursuing the case.


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Apple and Intel Sue SoftBank-Owned Firm Over ‘Endless, Meritless’ Patent Lawsuits

Apple and Intel on Wednesday jointly filed a lawsuit against SoftBank-owned investment firm Fortress Investment Group, accusing the company of violating U.S. federal antitrust laws by pursuing "endless, meritless" patent litigation.

The complaint alleges that non-practicing patent assertion entities like Fortress aggressively pursue patent litigation against large companies like Apple and Intel, knowing that even if they lose several cases, they could eventually win a case with a large monetary reward that exceeds their losses.


Apple and Intel argue that Fortress-backed entities have "sought billions of dollars" from the two companies over the years, forcing both tech giants to spend "millions of dollars" on outside resources like counsel and expert witnesses to defend against Fortress-backed demands and assertions.

Fortress-backed entities like Uniloc, DSS Technology Management, and Seven Networks are also named in the lawsuit, first reported by Reuters. The complaint was filed in Northern California federal court.

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Tags: lawsuit, Intel

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Corellium Responds to Apple Lawsuit, Claims its iOS Virtualization Software Helps Apple

Apple in August filed a lawsuit against Corellium, a mobile device virtualization company that supports iOS, with Apple accusing Corellium of copyright infringement for replicating the operating system that runs on the iPhone and iPad.

As noted by Motherboard, Corellium today filed its response to Apple's lawsuit, accusing the Cupertino company of owing $300,000 and claiming that its software helps Apple by making it easier for security researchers to track down iOS bugs.

A virtual iPhone on Corellium's website used as evidence in Apple's lawsuit against the company

According to Apple, Corellium's product infringes on its copyrights by creating digital replicas of iOS, iTunes, and other apps and software. "Corellium has simply copied everything: the code, the graphical user interface, the icons - all of it, in exacting detail," reads Apple's lawsuit.

Corellium designed its software to create virtual iOS devices able to run iOS, and has encouraged researchers and hackers to use it to find and test vulnerabilities.

According to Corellium, Apple's code in its product is "fair use" and the software makes the world better by allowing security researchers to look into iOS, find flaws, and inform Apple so the bugs can be fixed.

Corellium argues it's easier for researchers to find and test bugs in iOS using virtual instances of iOS rather than physical devices. With this lawsuit, says Corellium, Apple is aiming to control who is allowed to find vulnerabilities in its software. This is a position that is also supported within the security community, according to Motherboard, and many security researchers were surprised by Apple's initial lawsuit.
Through its invitation-only research device program and this lawsuit, Apple is trying to control who is permitted to identify vulnerabilities, if and how Apple will address identified vulnerabilities, and if Apple will disclose identified vulnerabilities to the public at all.
One of Corellium's key arguments is that its customers are seeking bugs with the intention of alerting Apple of their existence, which Motherboard points out is just an assumption and, based on evidence, not true. One customer highlighted in Corellium's legal response, for example, is Azimuth, a company that does not report bugs to Apple.

Instead, Azimuth sells hacking tools based on those bugs to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in countries like the United States and Canada.

Corellium also argues that Apple has known about the company for years and has been friendly to Chris Wade, one of Corellium's founders. Corellium says that Wade was invited to join Apple's bug bounty program. Wade has since reported seven bugs to Apple without receiving payment, which is why Corellium argues that Apple owes $300,000.

Apple declined to provide Motherboard with a comment on Corellium's legal response. Apple is continuing to seek a permanent injunction to prevent Corellium from offering a product that replicates iOS. Apple also wants Corellium to destroy all infringing materials that it's collected, and pay Apple damages, lost profits, and attorney fees.

Tag: lawsuit

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Former Apple Lawyer Facing Criminal Charges for Insider Trading

Former Apple lawyer Gene Levoff, who was in charge of enforcing Apple's Insider Trading Policy, is facing criminal charges related to insider trading of Apple stock, reports CNBC.

Levoff was today indicted for insider trading, and he is facing six counts of security fraud and six counts of wire fraud. According to the U.S. government, Levoff used inside information from Apple, including financial results before they were published, to sell Apple stock ahead of weaker than expected earnings results between 2011 and 2016 as well as to purchase stock during stronger quarters.

This scheme to defraud Company-1 and its shareholders allowed Levoff to realize profits of approximately $227,000 on certain trades and to avoid losses of approximately $377,000 on others.

When Levoff discovered that Company-1 had posted strong revenue and net profit for a given financial quarter, he purchased large quantities of stock, which he later sold for a profit once the market reacted to the news.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission first filed charges against Gene Levoff in February, but now he is facing criminal charges in addition to civil charges.

Levoff worked for Apple from 2008 to 2018, and prior to when he was fired from the company, he was the senior director of corporate law.

Apple declined to comment on the criminal charges filed today, but in February, said the following: "After being contacted by authorities last summer we conducted a thorough investigation with the help of outside legal experts, which resulted in termination."

Tags: lawsuit, AAPL, SEC

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U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear University of Wisconsin’s Appeal in Patent Lawsuit Against Apple

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear the University of Wisconsin's appeal in its patent fight with Apple, according to Reuters.


In July 2017, a U.S. district court ordered Apple to pay $506 million to the University of Wisconsin's Alumni Research Foundation for infringing on a patent related to computer processing technology with its A7, A8, and A8X chips.

In September 2018, however, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the damages that Apple had been ordered to pay, ruling that no reasonable juror could have been able to find infringement based on the evidence that was presented in the liability phase of the original 2015 trial.

The decision comes on the first day of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2019 term.

Tag: lawsuit

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