The Mark Papermaster saga has taken yet another twist.
For those of you who don't make it regular practice to follow the comings and goings of Apple's executive group, here's the back story: Papermaster is a former IBM chip guru who is said to be instrumental in the design of the Power processor series. A few weeks back, he left IBM to take a job at Apple, and Big Blue got a little sore.
It seems that Papermaster signed a non-compete agreement in 2006 in which he pledged not to take a job at any competitor for at least one year after leaving IBM, the thinking being that this would prevent him from defecting with company secrets to a competitor and undermine IBM.
When Papermaster announced that he would be leaving to head up iPhone and iPod development for Apple, Big Blue got a little suspicious, and more than a little litigious. The company filed suit to block Papermaster's appointment, claiming that his knowledge of Power would be put to use not in the iPhone or iPod, but in Apple's XServe lines and in a processor operation stemming from Apple's buyout of PA Semi.
Well, it seems Papermaster isn't taking this lying down. He has now countersued, asking the judge to tell IBM to get off his back, already. He claims that he is, in fact, working on the iPhone and iPod, and that unless IBM plans on getting into the portable media player market, he's not violating the agreement.
It would seem that the smart thing for IBM to do would be to back off for the time being and see what happens. After all, a successful suit against Papermaster would only stall him for a few months, and perhaps drag on longer than the actual terms of the deal, costing IBM much more than they'd get in return. On the other hand, if Apple releases a product that does compete with Power, then IBM has a case not only against Papermaster, but a shot to dig into Apple's much, much deeper pockets.
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