Judge puts Papermaster/IBM dispute on the fast track to trial

Tue, Dec 2, 2008

Analysis, Legal, News

The ongoing legal saga between Mark Papermaster and I.B.M has been put on the fast track, and trial has been scheduled for February 2009.  Papermaster, a server expert and chip guru, initially left I.B.M to work for Apple before he was sued for violating a non-compete agreement in his contract. I.B.M. asserted that Apple and I.B.M are competitors and that the trade secrets Papermaster acquired as a high level employee at I.B.M would necessarily come into play in his role as head of Apple’s iPod and iPhone division.  The court agreed and issued a preliminary injunction preventing Papermaster from starting his new position at Apple.

“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.”

The court, however, was also cognizant of the fact that Papermaster was unable to work anywhere as litigation loomed, and noted that the proceedings would be sped up as much as possible.

In a filing dated November 25, 2008, Judge Kenneth M. Karas issued the following schedule for the parties which included the following:

  • All fact discovery shall be completed by both parties by January 28, 2009.
  • A list of all potential witnesses for trial must also be completed by January 28.
  • All expert discovery shall be completed by February 13, while all trial exhibits must be exchanged by February 16.
  • A final pre-trial conference is scheduled for February 23, 2009, and trial is scheduled to commence no earlier February 24, 2009.

IBM fears that Papermaster, should he work for Apple, would disclose proprietary information about IBM’s processors and server technology, helping them to develop rival products. Apple, though, states that Papermaster will lead Apple’s iPod and iPhone engineering team, and Papermaster himself noted that his new position at Apple involves “entirely different technology from what he managed at I.B.M.” He also noted that he was hired by Apple primarily for his managerial skills than for his technological expertise.


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