The saga continues: Apple’s Mark Papermaster countersues IBM

“Mark Papermaster, the microchip expert that a court last week ordered to stop working at Apple while it hears a breach-of-contract suit brought against him by former employer IBM, has filed a lawsuit of his own against Big Blue,” Paul McDougall reports for InformationWeek.

“In court documents filed Thursday, Papermaster argues that the noncompete contract he signed while head of blade server development at IBM is irrelevant to his employment at Apple because ‘Apple and IBM are not significant competitors,'” McDougall reports.

“Papermaster also charges that the noncompete agreement he signed is ‘unreasonably broad in that it purports to impose an unreasonably lengthy time limitation.’ In the fast-paced tech world, ‘any trade secrets that Mr. Papermaster possesses would lose their value prior to the expiration of a year,’ the countersuit claims,” McDougall reports.

“Papermaster is asking the court to declare his noncompete deal with IBM invalid and to release him to work for Apple. Also Thursday, the court ordered IBM to post a $3 million bond to cover any costs or lost wages incurred by Papermaster if IBM does not prevail in the lawsuit, which is ongoing,” McDougall reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Ken” for the heads up.]


  1. I don’t understand why someone makes a comment about how $3M is a lot of money every time this story comes up. It would be a lot of money to you or me but to IBM this is nothing. They make this much money every 15 minutes (105B/year = 200k/min). The legal fees for this case are likely to be higher than that because so much is at stake. Clearly Apple thinks Papermaster is going to make the company a lot of money, but more importantly this is going to be very important case law for noncompete contracts, which are common in the tech industry and are being challenged in court. If noncompete contracts are not going to honored in the US it will change the way business is done in the tech sector.

  2. As a matter of procedure Papermaster needs to file his claim to be heard at the same time, or lose the right to do so.

    His attack on the contract is a fairly standard attack on a noncompete. But good luck convincing a judge or jury that what you learned has a usefulness of less than a year when the product design cycle for a PowerPC processor is longer than that. Intuitively a year sounds about right.

    And IBM has already made in a perfectly reasonable offer to have him sit on the beach and get paid for that year (or go away and work for any non competing company).

    IBM seems to be being very reasonable and generous. The guy after all did agree not to compete with them. Now he wants out of that bargain.

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