US judge prevents IBM ex-ranker working with Apple

9 Nov 2008

A US District Court Judge has ordered ex-IBM servers guru Mark Papermaster not to take up his position as Apple’s new iPod chief because he could indeed be violating a contract with IBM.

It emerged last week that IBM filed a lawsuit against Papermaster, who was Big Blue’s blades and servers guru, over his decision to join a rival technology firm.

Papermaster is understood to have signed a contract with IBM agreeing not to work for a rival company for a full year after his departure. In a suit filed at a court in Manhattan, IBM said that Papermaster was one of 300 executives who had top-level access to IBM’s top intellectual property secrets.

Papermaster is understood to be assuming responsibility for Apple’s music player division, as the father of the iPod, Tony Fadell, is leaving for personal reasons.

However, in the Manhattan court on Friday, Judge Kenneth Karas ordered that Papermaster cease his employment with Apple until a further order from his court.

Papermaster’s legal team have argued that forcing him to sit out the remainder of the full year could damage his career, and have argued that IBM and Apple are vastly different entities.

However, IBM has argued that electronic devices are largely powered by the same intelligence and electronics.

Apple has so far complied with the order, but expressed confidence that Papermaster will take up his role with the company, where he will report directly to CEO Steve Jobs.

Papermaster and his team have been given to 18 November to appeal the ruling.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years