The dispute between
over former IBM executive Mark Papermaster is heating up.
Papermaster, whose recent appointment as Apple's iPod and iPhone engineering chief prompted a breach-of-contract dispute with IBM, has been ordered to stop work by a federal court judge.
Judge Kenneth Karas ordered Papermaster to cease his work for Apple "until further Order of this Court," in a ruling issued Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Papermaster's lawyers have until Tuesday to register their objections, with a hearing set for Nov. 18.
Papermaster joined Apple on Nov. 4 as senior vice president of devices hardware engineering, where he is responsible for iPod and iPhone engineering. The former IBM executive assumed the position after Apple's iPod guru
, reduced his role with the company to spend more time with his family.
IBM, however, sued Papermaster after he handed in his notice last month, alleging that he breached a non-compete agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Papermaster cannot work for a competitor for up to a year after the end of his IBM employment.
Shares of Apple slipped 93 cents, or 0.95%, to $97.31 early Monday. IBM shares rose 46 cents, or 0.53%, to $86.73.
In court documents filed last week, Papermaster's lawyers painted IBM and Apple as very different companies, claiming that his new job "involves entirely different technology and design concerns."
The documents argue that Apple and IBM are not competitors, claiming that IBM is focused on large enterprise applications for businesses, whereas Apple's business is focused on consumer electronics.
In documents filed Friday, IBM countered, arguing that the two companies are competitors. IBM claims that its "power" processor technology is crucial to the design of servers and consumer electronics. Papermaster was IBM's "top expert" in this technology, according to the documents.
Apple used to buy its personal computer chips from IBM but now uses
chips for its Mac family of PCs. Apple is believed to use ARM- based processors, which have a different architecture from Intel chips, for its iPod and iPhone products.
Apple's desire to boost its processor business was evident in its acquisition of semiconductor company
earlier this year. P.A. Semi already licenses some basic parts of the "power" processor architecture to make embedded processors, according to IBM.
IBM's aggressive response to Papermaster's departure underlines the pressure felt by tech firms to keep their best research and development brains.
When he resigned from IBM, Papermaster was the company's vice president of blade development who also had spent 15 years developing microprocessors for the firm. The executive was a member of company's elite Integration & Values Team, and served on the firm's Technical Leadership Team.
In the court documents, Papermaster's lawyers argue that the process used to create microprocessors embedded in consumer electronics is "very different" from the process of creating server and PC microprocessors. Server microprocessors require the "fastest and most powerful" processor possible, without the size and power problems "present in consumer electronics processors", the documents claim.
IBM and Apple has crossed paths before, most notably prior to IBM's sale of its PC business to
, although Papermaster claims that this is in the past.
"Until this litigation effort by IBM, aside from the divested IBM personal computer business, and a single sale several years ago of Apple's Xserve product to a university, I do not recall a single instance of Apple being described as a competitor of IBM during my entire tenure at IBM," he said in a court declaration.