A former top chip engineer at Apple may face a considerable roadblock thanks to a breach-of-contract lawsuit Apple filed against him after he left the company and launched his own processor firm, Nuvia.
Gerard Williams III helped lead development of the chips used to power iPhones during his decade as a platform architect with Apple before he founded Nuvia Inc. last year. Williams contends a provision in the contract he had with Apple conflicts with a California law that allows workers to develop new businesses while they are employed elsewhere.
But in a tentative ruling rejecting his request to toss the suit, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce said the law doesn’t permit an employee “to plan and prepare to create a competitive enterprise prior to termination if the employee does so on their employer’s time and with the employer’s resources.” The judge also dismissed a claim by Williams that Apple invaded his privacy by reviewing text messages he wrote to coworkers that were critical of the company. Williams sought to have those texts excluded as evidence in the suit. Pierce disagreed.
…Williams left Apple in February before starting Nuvia that same month with other former Apple developers. He was “chief architect” for Apple’s chips for its mobile devices. His new company is developing processors for use in data centers. In November, Nuvia exited stealth mode and announced funding worth $53 million.
MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last last year, “Ooh, palace intrigue and the potential for secrets to be spilled in discovery! One problem springs immediately to mind for Apple: California state laws regarding non-competes and the like are very pro-employee. As for “invasion of privacy,” if Williams’ phone and texts were while he was employed with Apple, using Apple equipment and/or services, it’s within Apple’s purview to access them to protect the company’s trade secrets. Any properly managed company monitors its employees’ phone records and text messages via company-provided devices and services.