The Papermaster Chase
Apple’s efforts to build its own chip development brain trust out of its acquisition of P.A. Semi have run afoul of IBM. Mark Papermaster, a 26-year IBM veteran and vice president of its Blade Development unit–a division that designs corporate data centers, plans to take a new job with Apple (AAPL) in early November, and Big Blue is doing its damndest to stop him. The company has filed suit against Papermaster, claiming his noncompete agreement with IBM prohibits him from taking a job with Apple.
“Mr. Papermaster’s employment by Apple is a violation of his agreement with IBM against working for a competitor should he leave IBM,” said Fred McNeese, director of IBM’s corporate media relations group. “We will vigorously pursue this case in court.”
And for good reason. As a member of the IBM (IBM) elite Integration and Values Team, Papermaster had broad access to the company’s intellectual property, trade secrets, and more. From the complaint:
The I&VT is charged with addressing the most difficult and important issues facing IBM, such as developing corporate strategy and driving innovation and growth and I&VT team members work with the most sensitive strategic information the Company possesses.
In his capacity as a member of the I&VT, Mr. Papermaster has gained access to confidential information concerning the Company’s strategic plans, marketing plans and long-term business opportunities, including the development of specific IBM products.
… Mr. Papermaster is IBM’s top expert in ‘Power’ architecture and technology, and he is privy to a whole host of trade secrets and confidences belonging to IBM that the company uses to design, develop and manufacture its products.”
Sounds like IBM has a lot to lose in Papermaster. Certainly, it’s worrisome that someone with his processor design expertise and deep knowledge of IBM research and innovation could end up at Apple, a company that’s made quite a name for itself recognizing the potential of innovations others have left fallow.