TECH

Apple sues former employee over iOS Journal app leak

Hammer in the courtroom

Apple has filed a lawsuit against a former employee, accusing a former iOS software engineer of violating confidentiality agreements by disclosing details of the Journal application before its launch.

The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Santa Clara on March 18, pits Apple against defendant Andrew Ode. Apple has three complaints against Ode, all related to his alleged conduct when he shared details about Apple products, services and policies with the media.

Aud “repeatedly violated his promise to maintain the confidentiality of Apple information,” the complaint states, violating an intellectual property agreement (IPA) that prevented him from sharing confidential information with non-Apple employees.

The leaks included “highly sensitive information about Apple's business practices, internal policies and products,” and recipients included employees of other technology companies and “at least three national journalists.”

A half-dozen policies and products were leaked over a five-year period. The leaks included providing the Wall Street Journal with a list of the Journal app's final features during an April 2023 phone call.

Aude reportedly sent “more than 1,400” messages to the same journalist using Signal. This is reported by MacRumors, with the contact being referred to under the code name “Homeboy”.

More than 10,000 text messages were also allegedly sent to The Information journalist. Aud apparently had at least one personal meeting with them across the continent.

The suit also alleges that Apple's Vision Pro was leaked in October 2020, citing a screenshot of him revealing details of the spatial computing product to a non-Apple employee.

An unusual justification

Apple says the Aude data leak was not accidental, and some were intentionally harmful. Aud allegedly admitted to Apple that he violated his obligations to “destroy” products and features with which he had problems.

There have also been cases where Apple discovered that Aud was doing this for reasons of attention and vanity. In one screenshot after one leak and information about the time of publication, Od told his interlocutor that he “can't wait for chaos to break out before Apple's corporate employees even wake up.”

In the fall of 2023, Apple discovered that Od was a serial whistleblower. Aud allegedly confirmed his guilt through his actions during the November 7 interview.

Denying that he had leaked information to anyone and claiming that he did not have an Apple-issued iPhone on hand, he then said mid-interview that he needed to go to the bathroom. During the break, Aude used his iPhone and permanently deleted evidence from the smartphone, including the Signal app, the statement said.

A subsequent December interview gave Od a narrow confession, despite some evidence he was unable to destroy. Apple later fired Oda for his misconduct.

“Apple does not easily sue its former employees,” the company wrote, noting that Aude had “showed no remorse” for his actions. Because he destroyed evidence, Apple doesn't know how far the disclosure ultimately went, and Od refused to cooperate further.

“Mr. Oda's pattern of disclosing highly confidential Apple information to others – without regard to his legal or contractual obligations and for the express purpose of harming Apple – and his continued knowledge of Apple's confidential and proprietary information creates a significant risk that “that disclosures will continue,” Apple continued in the statement.

The employee's misconduct forced Apple to take steps to protect its information, and the lawsuit was aimed at preventing further violations of Aude's contract in the future.

The complaint accuses Aude of breach of contract under the IPA, breach of duty of loyalty and breach of contract under the Restricted Stock Agreement.A jury trial is required.

718014193 Apple Inc v. Andrew Oda, Mike Wurtele on Scribd

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