Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
IBM Businesses Government The Courts Apple News

Former IBM Exec Ordered To Stop Working For Apple 270

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the petty-jealousy dept.
tom_guyette writes "ComputerWorld reports a federal judge has ordered former IBM executive Mark Papermaster, recently hired as Apple's vice president of hardware devices engineering, to stop working for Apple. The judge's ruling is based on a motion for preliminary injunction made by IBM, which states Papermaster's new job violates a non-compete agreement he signed in 2006. In response, Papermaster asserted to the court that 'Nothing about his new job will implicate any trade secrets from IBM.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Former IBM Exec Ordered To Stop Working For Apple

Comments Filter:
  • states rights! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mactard (1223412) on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:08PM (#25712963)
    I could've sworn that non-competes were illegal in California. States rights need to be preserved!
  • Lame response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:16PM (#25713073)

    He signed the non-compete. *HE* gave away his freedom. Not the State.

    The State is just going to hold him to HIS word.

  • Re:states rights! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maudib (223520) on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:21PM (#25713131)

    Either way it doesn't matter. This was a federal court, not state.

  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:25PM (#25713191) Journal

    A non-compete seems to me the perfect way to pay your best employees peanuts. If you sign a non-compete, then you're basically trapped at one company, and can never get a job in the same industry again. Using that information, your employer could pay you as little as they want and never fear you leaving for another company.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:27PM (#25713215) Homepage

    But...but... but.. What about my freedom to tell people lies and break my word?!

  • Re:Lame response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:31PM (#25713265)

    He signed the non-compete. *HE* gave away his freedom. Not the State.

    The State is just going to hold him to HIS word.

    non-competes represent collusion within various industries in a conspiracy to remove employees' civil liberties and subject them to increased risk of improper compensation.

    "industry standard" = collusion, plain and simple.

  • Re:states rights! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DWIM (547700) on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:40PM (#25713365)

    So what, the guy cant work in his professional field anymore? I get that you want to protect your IP, but not at the cost of a very highly qualified individual's livelyhood.

    I am sure a guy with his qualifications understood completely that he signed a non-compete with IBM to advance his livelihood as an employee of IBM.

    I have friends that would think twice about working for Big Blue now. Makes me nervous of the thought of signing your brain over to a corporation.

    An entirely understandable, reasonable response to this. I wouldn't sign with them either (unless I desperately needed the work or they waved obscene money at me or gave me some other reason to sell my soul).

  • Re:Lame response (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @07:58PM (#25713619)

    If it's that big of a deal to you then don't sign it. I've known several programmers that confronted management about the non-compete and didn't have to sign.

    However, non-competes make a ton of sense, at least the narrower ones which specify that you can't go to a company in direct competition with your current one. For tech jobs, knowledge is everything, and knowledge doesn't just disappear overnight. If a senior programmer where I currently work were to jump to a competitor, it would be worth millions of dollars if they could pick his brain about techniques, abilities, and which customers were dissatisfied.

    So you're saying that a person cannot go to a higher bidder if demand/pay for their services is higher than what they are currently being offered?

    Doesn't that sort of defeat the whole capitalism thing?

  • Compensation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JakiChan (141719) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:07PM (#25713735)

    I think if a company wants to force someone not to work in their area of expertise for a year then they should be forced to compensate that person for a year. They should match Apple's compensation and benefits and the guy doesn't have to work. That seems fair.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:10PM (#25713763) Homepage

    If it's that big of a deal to you then don't sign it. I've known several programmers that confronted management about the non-compete and didn't have to sign. However, non-competes make a ton of sense FOR THE EMPLOYER, at least the narrower ones which specify that you can't go to a company in direct competition with your current one. For tech jobs, knowledge is everything, and knowledge doesn't just disappear overnight. If a senior programmer where I currently work were to jump to a competitor, it would be worth millions of dollars if they could pick his brain about techniques, abilities, and which customers were dissatisfied.

    There, fixed that for you. If the employee is worth that much, employers should treat them well, compensate them appropriately and make them feel appreciated. There are already laws about trade secrets; a non-compete agreement is just a control mechanism which, when enforceable, gives great leverage to the employer and none to the employee.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:11PM (#25713769) Homepage

    The problem is a non-compete effectively makes you worthless if you leave your job. What's the point in being a pro if you can't legally sell your skills to the highest bidder ?

    Even if a pro jumps ship over to your competitor, all that knowledge is worth very little unless they can put it to work against you within a short time frame. That same knowledge could have been used by YOU, to fix what's wrong with YOUR company. If the clients find a better deal elsewhere, it is not because "the employee knew too much", it's because the product/service sucks and management is too stupid to fix it.

    The problem with American capitalism is it has way too many exceptions throwing the game off-balance in favor of the rich losers, it's an end-run around the whole ethos.

  • Inalienable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:38PM (#25714075)

    There are a class of rights that you can not give up. Even if you try to sign them away in a contract, you still have them, and the courts will find the contract unenforceable.

    So, just because he signed it doesn't mean he has to abide by it...especially since most companies require the signing of such contracts these days....it is not like you can refuse to sign and just go work for someone else, the "someone else" will also require you to sign.

    So the question is whether or not the right to hold a job is Inalienable

  • Re:states rights! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pincus (744497) on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:40PM (#25714097)

    The US Constitution explictly states...

    From wikipedia:

    Which is the more reliable documentation?

  • Re:Lame response (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:43PM (#25714141)

    Good job.

    Competition and capitalism are antithetical. As soon as any corporation achieves an absolute advantage over any other corporation for the same product, they can sculpt the market to look however they want. Likewise when employers all enter into a tacit cartel by all requiring the same non-compete agreements--essentially taking monopoly power over all hiring in a particular industry. Add the fact that such contracts are supposedly enforced by the government and you are essentially giving autocratic control of an industry to those already in charge. Free market my ass. Why don't we make IBM enforce their own contracts, instead of having the taxpayer enforce them.

  • bs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdelFactor19 (732765) <.adam.edelstein. .at. .alum.rpi.edu.> on Monday November 10, 2008 @08:51PM (#25714231)

    This is not a lowly employee for them to bully around. This is an executive vice president. Did you not read the article? These are the kind of people who could easily say "Strike that from my contract or no deal, and I'll work somewhere else"

    I don't know him personally, and I'm sure he's a fine individual; but that said, I don't think he'll be in a pinch for money anytime soon. If this causes reform that affects normal people like you and me great. But otherwise I could careless, he should suffer the same fate we would. The difference is that if you or I left or get laid off a. we don't have a crazy pension that he likely does. b. we don't have companies happy to pay 6+ figures a year for us to do nothing.

    The person is lying, no one forces you to sign anything. Employment is at will, if you don't like it negotiate it or don't sign it. That's how the legal system works. I can't sign a loan for a million dollars and then say you didnt really think I was going to pay you back did I?

    Hopefully this will get the contracts and the laws regarding them updated and inspected. Much like the copyright issues with music, instead of breaking the laws and skirting them lets CHANGE them.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @11:06PM (#25715491)

    What makes you think unions would fix this? Not only would you be unable to leave a union shop without losing all accrued benefits, but then you'd have to start at the bottom of the totem pole if you went to another company, and if you didn't you'd have to wait for people with seniority to move out of the positions you want.

    Unions are not a fix all to problems. They are a relic of the Industrial Revolution and and are no longer relevant; just corrupt bodies to overcharge for menial labor and keep corrupt people in power.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 10, 2008 @11:24PM (#25715671)
    Will I be free to NOT join the union? Or will the union force "union only" rules on everyone?
  • Re:bs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Monday November 10, 2008 @11:44PM (#25715849) Homepage
    Handful of points:
    • Once you're at that level, there are fewer positions available, and if there's collusion such that no companies hire without a NC agreement, then you are either forced to sign, or you're flipping burgers.
    • Your loan example is apples to my oranges. A loan is a material exchange. A closer example would be if you made a loan to me at a rate that is outside of the bounds allowed by usury laws. I might sign it not knowing what the laws are, or because I'm desperate for the money, but if I learn that I'm being taken advantage of, I may well tell you I will not pay you more than the legal limit on interest over the principal, and I may sue you for punitive damages for the high payments you've required of me thus far.
    • Sometimes unjust laws have to be challenged by breaking them. Without Rosa Parks, our next president might have spent hhttp://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1024461&cid=25714231#is childhood sitting at the back of the bus.
  • Re:Lame response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @12:26AM (#25716159)

    Yeah.. they could sign that deal for 50% more, and you agree to the non-compete, but this is still lopsided... what if they downsize you a month later?

    It should be a bit more cash while you're working for them, AND include appropriate amount of pay if you stop working for them, for the duration of the non-compete period.

    Reason for that is simple... if you're not working in your industry, then you aren't earning the $$$ you could otherwise.

    There should be some compensation for having a non-compete agreement in place.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @12:29AM (#25716183)

    Not if they want to work for me. If you don't like non-competes, don't work somewhere that requires you to sign one. Capitalism is about making trade-offs.

    Capitalism is about competition. Non-compete clauses are the very opposite of competition. If you don't want your employees to work elsewhere, maybe you should pay them more? Or suck it up and accept that you're going to have to compete against him at some point in the future.

    You have no right, no right, over the lives of your employees. That's another thing about Capitalism--it's supposed to be about freedom.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @12:55AM (#25716343) Journal

    In many places all employers in an area require you to sign it.

    In an economic depression like ours they can do it and you are screwed if you refuse to sign it. Someone else will and your family will starve if your out of work.

    As more companies do this sort of thing the problem will continue when it improves. Pretty soon you wont have a choice and its kind of like minimal wage. Employers pay it because you have no choice but to take it with your education level and the large pool of applicants for the job.

    How experienced are you? I know I can not get away without signing one.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arminw (717974) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @01:21AM (#25716521)

    ...Given the high pay and pleasant working conditions around here, they obviously want to keep us here....

    Apparently IBM did want to keep the guy and offered him full pay for the duration of the noncompete agreement. In effect, they were offering him a paid vacation, so it would have been no financial hardship to keep his promise.

    Keeping promises is apparently not nearly as important to people anymore, as it used to be in bygone days. Solemn promises made on wedding days are broken more often than kept nowadays.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @01:38AM (#25716619)

    Interesting claim.

    But firing isn't the only way to make someone leave. There are thousands of ways to do so.

    If you're a VP, they can take away your assistant, make you file paperwork yourself, cripple your decisionmaking powers, cut you out of important meetings, move your office somewhere unpleasant, i.e. some obscure 5x5 cubicle in the basement, and give your office to a junior employee just hired. They can replace your workstation with a 386 (cost-saving measure), give you the printer that always jams up, take away your laptop (to be sold to reduce costs).

    Direct an armed security guard to follow you wherever you go.

    You get the idea?

  • Re:states rights! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arminw (717974) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @01:46AM (#25716655)

    ....it's the one it is presented to who has the freedom to tell the company to go fuck themselves....

    That might work if there were only one or two companies in a given field that made these noncompete agreements as a condition of employment. As soon as most them or all of them make this as part of their standard employment practice, such a stance on part of the employee is no longer practical. When that happens, society must step in and outlaw such agreements completely or make it unpalatable for employers to include them in their employment agreements. Requiring employers who make such agreements to pay a full salary +50% for the duration of such an agreement might strongly discourage employers to routinely require such agreements.

  • by RudeIota (1131331) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:24AM (#25717757) Homepage

    If a person moves to a different state can the state they left behind still enforce their laws on that person? Can the state of New York force the state of California to enforce actions that are illegal in the state of California?

    Maybe that was rhetorical, but yes; well, the things agreed to in that state, at least. Contractual obligations transcend state lines according to the constitution [usconstitution.net] (for what it's worth).

    And about the promises.. I'm all for people upholding their promises. We could definitely use more of that. :)

    However, I feel like this is thought-crime territory. The whole purpose of the non-compete is to stop you from divulging company secrets - But the method which they employ makes you promise not to work for another company in your area of expertise... or don't work at all. If it were just one company doing this, it wouldn't be so bad. But I'm betting all the big corporations do, as well as many upstarts and smaller companies because it has become the industry norm.

    I happen to think you can very much keep a promise of non-disclosure and still work for a competitor, but the way this is rigged means your employer preemptively punishes you by capping your career to prevent something that may or may not happen.

    Basically, your employer doesn't trust you at all. You get nothing from the employer except a job, but that job may be your last one for a few years. Heh... The sole beneficiary here is the company and something seems unfair about it, IMO.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @07:16AM (#25718409)

    Keeping promises is apparently not nearly as important to people anymore, as it used to be in bygone days.

    There are promises and 'promises'. To me, a company is just a 'legal fiction'. Any 'promises' it makes to me are effectively worthless except to the degree that
    a) It suits the company to fulfill them or
    b) they can be enforced in court
    So my 'promises' to a company are made on the exactly the same reciprocal basis.

  • Re:Lame response (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hmar (1203398) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @10:06AM (#25719721)
    I am not sure, but I think if you stop showing up it counts as quitting, not dismissal.
  • Re:Lame response (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @10:07AM (#25719741)

    They'd either have to fire you or pay you to stay home, either of which work for your purposes.

    I think most corporations would have a vicious reaction to a strategy like that. Now you look like the bad guy... you stopped showing up, so anything they do is "with cause"; they may start paying you for 0 or 1 hours of work a week, so officially you are "employed" still.

    Unless you have an employment contract, they can pay you minimum wage that specified compensation for that time as a penalty/motivator and still call you employed. If you do have an employment contract, they sue your arse.

    You can't work anywhere else, due too the non-compete. Doesn't sound like a very fun counterattack.

"The chain which can be yanked is not the eternal chain." -- G. Fitch

Working...