By Cara Lombardo
Apple Inc.'s general counsel, who maintained a low profile before a debate over the balance of privacy and national security thrust him into the national spotlight last year, is retiring.
Bruce Sewell will leave the technology company at the end of the year after holding the role since 2009, Apple said Friday. Mr. Sewell testified before a House of Representatives committee in March 2016 to defend Apple's refusal to unlock a smartphone belonging to a shooter in the deadly San Bernardino, Calif., attack.
Katherine Adams, who was previously Honeywell International Inc.'s top lawyer, will be Apple's new general counsel and senior vice president of legal and global security, the company said. Ms. Adams, 53 years old, will report to Chief Executive Tim Cook.
Ms. Adams's last day at Honeywell will be Oct. 27. Anne Madden, Honeywell's vice president of corporate development, will take over as general counsel at the manufacturing firm, a company spokeswoman said.
"We are thrilled to welcome Kate to our team," Mr. Cook said in prepared remarks. "She's a seasoned leader with outstanding judgment that has worked on a wide variety of legal cases globally."
During his tenure as Apple's general counsel, Mr. Sewell oversaw major patent disputes with Samsung Electronics Co. and battled the U.S. government in an antitrust case involving the pricing of e-books. Executives who worked with him have said he has a close relationship with Mr. Cook and sat in nearly all high-level Apple meetings.
"He has tirelessly defended our IP, our customers' right to privacy and our values," Mr. Cook said of Mr. Sewell.
When testifying before Congress last year, Mr. Sewell argued that forcing Apple to circumvent its security measures, which he helped shape, would set a dangerous precedent. Federal prosecutors later dropped the case when it found another way to unlock the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife killed 14 people.
As Mr. Sewell's replacement, Ms. Adams will inherit a fight with Qualcomm Inc. over its patent-licensing practices. Apple sued Qualcomm in January in a California federal court, alleging the leading supplier of smartphone chips demanded unfair terms for its technology. Apple later filed suits in several overseas markets, including the U.K., China, Japan and Taiwan.
Before joining Honeywell in 2003, Ms. Adams was a partner at Sidley Austin LLP in New York, according to Apple, and earlier in her career clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor also worked as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. She earned her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.
Write to Cara Lombardo at [email protected]