IBM wants info from Apple execs in Papermaster case

Steve Jobs may be among targets in fight over former IBM VP joining Apple

IBM has asked for information from several unnamed senior officials at Apple as part of the discovery process in the lawsuit to block a former executive from joining Apple, according to court documents made public Monday.

Those documents also revealed that the federal judge overseeing the case denied IBM's request to postpone the trial while awaiting a decision from an appellate court.

US District Court Judge Kenneth Karas rejected IBM's call to delay the trial of Mark Papermaster, the 26-year veteran of the company who resigned in October to take a senior position at Apple, where he was to head iPhone and iPod development. IBM made the request after Papermaster appealed Karas' November 7 ruling that forced him to stop working at Apple .

IBM objected to the simultaneous pursuit of both the original lawsuit and the appeal, arguing that the former should be delayed until the results of the latter had been decided.

"There is little point in requiring this Court and the parties to expend the very substantial efforts required to prepare this case for trial in February if the question of Mr. Papermaster's ability to commence his proposed new employment at Apple is to be determined by the Court of Appeals in late January or early February," said IBM's lawyers in a memorandum to Karas dated November 21.

Instead, said IBM, Karas should put the trial on hold until Papermaster's appeal is heard.

Karas turned down IBM, writing on the memo: "The Court sees nothing wrong with Mr. Papermaster's decision to expeditiously appeal the preliminary injunction and to try this case. Accordingly, the Court has adopted, with minor changes, the schedule greed to by the Parties." He then set trial to begin on or after February 24, 2009.

Papermaster went to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the hope that it will overturn Karas' injunction that prevents him from working at Apple. Karas barred him from the California company after five days on the job, agreeing with IBM that he might cause "irreparable harm" to his former employer.

At the heart of the lawsuit is a 2006 non-competition agreement that Papermaster signed. IBM claimed that the agreement barred him from working for competitors for a year after leaving the company. According to IBM, Papermaster had information of "highly confidential IBM trade secrets" that would damage the firm if he was allowed to work for Apple.

Elsewhere in the documents posted yesterday were references to requests by both IBM and Papermaster for depositions and documents as part of the discovery process, under which the parties are allowed to gather evidence.

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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