Papermaster would cause “irreperable harm” to IBM, says Judge

Tue, Nov 25, 2008

Analysis, Legal, News

Computerworld has an interesting post discussing the specific reasons why the injunction preventing Mark Papermaster from working at Apple was granted. The injunction has been in effect for a few weeks, but the actual ruling has been sealed up until recently. The ruling states in part:

“Because Mr. Papermaster has been inculcated with some of IBM’s most sensitive and closely guarded technical and strategic secrets, it is no great leap for the Court to find that Plaintiff has met its burden of showing a likelihood of irreparable harm…

It is likely that Mr. Papermaster inevitably will draw upon his experience and expertise in microprocessors and the ‘Power’ architecture, which he gained from his many years at IBM, and which Apple found so impressive, to make sure that the iPod and iPhone are fitted with the best possible microprocessor technology and at a lower cost.”

Computerworld points out that the Judge in the case didn’t find much merit in Papermaster’s assertion that I.B.M and Apple aren’t competitors, and as is evident above, argues that though Papermaster might not be working with processor technology directly, his expertise in the field would necessarily come into play as head of Apple’s iPod and iPhone division.

Papermaster has since counter-sued I.B.M, claiming that the covenant not to compete clause in his contract is unenforceable. The majority of Papermaster’s career has been spent in Texas, while his new position would require him to move to California. Interestingly, both of those two states ignore covenant not to compete agreements as a matter of public policy. But unfortunately for Papermaster, the case is being heard in New York (where I.B.M headquarters are located) which is not as lenient as Texas and California. In his countersuit, Papermaster stated that I.B.M’s broad interpretation of its non-competition agreement would effectively bar him from working in his trained field in any capacity.

In the meantime, Papermaster is stuck sitting at home, unable to work at Apple, and clearly past the point of returning to work for I.B.M. The judge, thankfully, is not oblivious to this fact and noted that he will attempt to speed up the proceedings to the extent that it is possible.

“The Court has ordered that an expedited discovery schedule be arranged and that the trial take place as soon as practicable after discovery is completed”


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