John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

The Papermaster Chase, Redux

Oh, it’s on now.

Mark Papermaster, the IBM veteran poached by Apple last month to become its senior vice president of Devices Hardware Engineering, has filed a countersuit against his former employer in a fast-metastasizing dispute over his noncompete contract.

In documents filed late Thursday in federal court in New York, Papermaster argues his noncompete agreement with IBM (IBM) is “unreasonably broad.”

The ‘Business Enterprise’ restriction is unreasonably broad in that it purports to restrict Mr. Papermaster from going to work for any company that engages in competition with his former business unit to any extent, even if Mr. Papermaster will not be working for the part of the company that does so. Likewise, the ‘significant competitor or major competitor’ prong purports to restrict Mr. Papermaster from going to work for one of these companies even if the work that Mr. Papermaster will be doing is completely unrelated to the work he was doing at IBM. These provisions are not necessary to protect any legitimate interests of IBM.”

So not only is Papermaster’s noncompete “unreasonably broad,” it’s utterly irrelevant to his employment with Apple (AAPL).

And beyond that, it’s just plain silly.

Noncompetition agreements are unenforceable both in Texas, where Papermaster was employed by IBM, and California, where he’ll be working for Apple–a fact also noted in his countersuit. Given that, does IBM really want to be putting up $3 million to cover any damages Papermaster might incur should the case be decided in his favor?