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Papermaster countersues IBM over Apple gig

'Your chip secrets are safe with me'

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Apple executive-in-waiting Mark Papermaster is countersuing his former employer IBM for attempting to bar his employment in Cupertino.

IBM recently sued the former chip guru and longtime staffer in New York federal court, accusing him of breaking his non-compete agreement. Big Blue says his intimate knowledge of IBM's Power microprocessor technology makes him a security risk at Apple.

Papermaster was tapped in October to replace outgoing iPod executive Tony Fadell.

IBM's court filings speculate that Apple could toss the Intel processors used in its PCs and servers in favor of new chips using IBM industry secrets disclosed by Papermaster.

Papermaster's counterclaim argues that the companies are not significant competitors and that he'll be doing completely unrelated work at Apple to what he was doing at IBM.

He also claims the non-compete agreement is unreasonably broad in that it would restrict him from "working anywhere in the world based on the global scope of IBM's business" for an entire year.

The claim also points out that Papermaster has lived and worked in Austin, Texas for nearly a decade while the non-competition agreement is governed by the laws of New York.

"Mr. Papermaster has no substantial relationship to New York, in that he has resided and worked in Texas for the past 17 years, and he is going to work for Apple, which is a California corporation," the filing states. "Both states hold that such noncompetition agreements are unenforceable as a matter of public policy."

Papermaster asks the court to declare the agreement unenforceable and for reimbursement for attorneys fees. He's also asking for any further relief the court is willing to swing his way.

The two parties are scheduled to hold a status conference regarding the case next Tuesday. ®

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