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Ex-IBM exec cleared to join Apple

Posted: 29 Jan 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:hardware engineering  executive  silicon design 

IBM and Apple have resolved litigation over Mark Papermaster, clearing the way for the former IBM executive to begin work as senior vice president of devices hardware engineering at Apple on April 24. Papermaster will be responsible for iPod and iPhone engineering teams, reporting to chief executive Steve Jobs.

Papermaster served at IBM for 25 years in a variety of roles including silicon design, rising to become a vice president. When he left to join Apple, IBM sought and won an injunction from a federal district court to force him to stop working at Apple until the companies resolved issues around disclosure of confidential company information.

IBM argued it wanted Papermaster to take a year's leave of absence before joining a potential competitor. Apple argued IBM makes large computer servers while Apple's focus is on personal computers and consumer devices. IBM also helps design and make some of the chips used in the Sony Playstation, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox videogame consoles.

Under terms of the agreement, Papermaster cannot start work at Apple until April 24, six months after he left IBM. In addition, he will be required to certify in July and again in October that he has not disclosed any IBM confidential information.

The federal court that granted the injunction will retain jurisdiction over the case until October 24, one year after Mr. Papermaster's departure from IBM. The moves appear to be a form of legal saber rattling, putting Apple and Papermaster on notice that IBM will be watching closely for any violations of its intellectual property rights.

Apple has been on a quest over the past year to beef up its silicon design capabilities. In March it quietly purchased start-up PA Semi which designed low-power processors based on the IBM Power architecture.

That effort also faced an initial legal entanglement when word emerged several Department of Defence projects had selected PA's chips. Apple eventually announced it would support production of those parts for a time.

-Rick Merritt
EE Times

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