Former IBM Exec Heading to Apple…If Court Approves

Mark Papermaster isn’t exactly living up to his namesake. After being tapped by Steve Jobs to join the ranks of Apple as chief over their xServe line – microchip production for devices like the iPhone – the ex-IBM exec has actually been caught in a nasty legal battle with his former employer…

Mark Papermaster isn’t exactly living up to his namesake. After being tapped by Steve Jobs to join the ranks of Apple as chief over their xServe line – microchip production for devices like the iPhone – the ex-IBM exec has actually been caught in a nasty legal battle with his former employer over his signature on a non-compete agreement. For now, a court order mandates that Papermaster not be allowed to assume his new position until the dispute has been settled.

While Papermaster argues that his function at Apple would be entirely different than his previous job description – one handles consumer electronics while the other deals in large enterprise business applications – IBM fears a leak of insider information. Even so, court documents say that Papermaster was allowed two weeks of unfettered access to IBM trade secrets even after he had notified them of his transfer. Regardless, IBM contests that Papermaster’s new line of work would, indeed, represent a conflict of interest due to the fact that both jobs ultimately deal with microprocessors, which are the same no matter what business you’re in. More importantly, the question lingers over the legalese of such a document and how far non-compete agreements can stretch. Until the matter is settled on November 18th, both companies will be left in limbo. As for Papermaster himself, take this moral with you: Don’t sign anything you don’t understand or, at least, be very familiar with the loopholes.


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