back to article Apple sues iPhone CPU design ace after he quits to run data-center chip upstart Nuvia

Apple is suing the former chief architect of its iPhone and iPad microprocessors, who in February quit to co-found a data-center chip design biz. In a complaint filed in the Santa Clara Superior Court, in California, USA, and seen by The Register, the Cupertino goliath claimed Gerard Williams, CEO of semiconductor upstart …

  1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    It would be nice

    If Apple's case was dismissed for failure to state a case because all its evidence was deemed to be inadmissible

    1. davenewman

      Re: It would be nice

      Or if Apple's contracts were judged to be contracts of slavery, so Apple would be guilty of keeping slaves.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: It would be nice

      Weren't Jobs and Wozniak working for different companies when they founded Apple? Didn't Wozniak designed the Apple I while working at HP?

      It looks US companies now believe the own their employees - anyway that's the company who set up the illegal cartel to avoid wages competition....

      1. R3sistance

        Re: It would be nice

        Jobs was working for Atari while Wozniak was indeed working for Hewlett Packard. Jobs got Wozniak to help him out with more than a few things regarding his job for Atari

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It would be nice

        Yes Woz worked at HP.

        They also raised IP from Xerox.

      3. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: It would be nice

        duty of loyalty...

        Of course that's a one way street.

        1. Anthony Constantinou

          Re: It would be nice

          Great

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: It would be nice

        "Weren't Jobs and Wozniak working for different companies when they founded Apple? Didn't Wozniak designed the Apple I while working at HP?"

        And wasn't Sir Jony still working at Apple while starting up his own design business?

    3. devTrail Bronze badge

      Re: It would be nice

      I don't think that dismissing the case would be the right thing to do. Illegally spying on the employees should be punished for what it is, not as a side issue in other legal actions. I would like to see a parallel investigation and prosecution for these kind of things every time they come out and the managers responsible for them should be prosecuted as well, a collective punishment on the company usually affects more the small shareholders unaware of the situation that the wrongdoers.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: It would be nice

        > I don't think that dismissing the case would be the right thing to do

        It would be the right thing to do, but in finalising the decision, the judge should also say something along the lines of "err, by the way, Mr Apple, could you stay behind after as I've some folks that want a word with you regarding the illegal collection of personal communications from your former employees phone", perhaps just after the defence attorney has filed a separate suit in civil court and served them with some form of notice as I'm sure there would be a case for both civil and criminal damages to answer for should this be true, and they should be separate actions.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: It would be nice

          >Mr Apple, could you stay behind after as I've some folks that want a word with you regarding the illegal collection of personal communications from your former employees phone"

          I think there is a queue of people wanting to know how Apple managed to extract such information from what they have told the world and specifically the FBI is a secure device...

          1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

            Re: It would be nice

            It's probably just the standard device management protocols, no special wizardry needed.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: It would be nice

        >I don't think that dismissing the case would be the right thing to do.

        The concern must be if Apple actually wins and so this allegation is allowed to stand:

        "Apple's lawsuit alleged Williams hid the fact he was preparing to leave Apple to start his own business while still working at Apple"

        Basically, this implies that any employee who makes any preparations to leave (eg. draft a CV and submit it to an agency), is in breach of their employment contract...

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: It would be nice

        Illegally spying on the employees should be punished for what it is, not as a side issue in other legal actions

        The "side issue" is the main issue. Fruit of the poison tree. (Yes, that's a criminal-law doctrine, and this is a civil case, but the parallel principle is valid.) If you break the law, you shouldn't be allowed to use the results against someone else.

        1. Mark 65

          Re: It would be nice

          My concern is that people so intelligent were using text message and not at least using Signal to communicate. If you want the information to be secret (you are discussing the start up of a new tech company after all) would you not resist the urge to send messages in the open?

    4. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: It would be nice

      First, you are jumping the gun...

      Who said it inadmissible?

      That was rhetorical but the point is that the text messages can be admissible.

      Who’s phone? Employee or Apple’s?

      Even if it was a BYOD phone, Apple has rights to texts...

      Non compete is tricky. Legal language aside, the guy worked on his startup while at apple.

      That can also be an issue.

      Not open an shut or an overreach by Apple by any means.

      1. alexmcm

        Re: It would be nice

        "Legal language aside, the guy worked on his startup while at apple."

        I remember a few of the contracts I signed with software companies back in the 90's, when I used to actually read them, said something along the lines of, 'the company has the rights to anything creative I do whilst employed by the company.' I thought at the time they were pushing their luck a bit with that. I mean if I wrote a best seller novel in my spare time, did they expect the rights to that? Or a hit single.

        I think the point it was trying to get across was, if did something creatively with a computer, they owned the rights, as they assumed I used the companies resources to at least help create it.

        The same would go for this guy. But it will be interesting to see how enforceable it is.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Boffin

          @Alexmcm Re: It would be nice

          Its a shame that so many here ignore the law and have wild fantasies of what they think they want to be right is right.

          You’ve at least read your contract but didn’t understand the ramifications.

          If you work in Tech, you usually end up signing an employee agreement that says if you invent something while working here, it belongs to the company. Regardless if you did it on your own systems and on your own time.

          You would argue that because you did it on your own and outside of work, they should pound sand. They would argue that you designed the tech because of the work you did for company X. And the courts agree with the company and you lose.

          To your point, if you did something outside of tech, then the company had no rights to it. So write your best selling novel or like most IBM techies... go out and do something outside of tech where IBM would have no claim.

          There’s more, but you get the idea.

          WIth respect to the phones. If the company provides the laptop, or the phone, they have rights to the data on those devices. So if you’re going to have a personal life or want to do something outside of the company, you need to have your own phone. I and many of my peers carry two phones. You never want to share your calendars or emails on your personal gear.

          If you have any ideas that are really good, you may flesh them out, but the minute you take action, you need to be outside of your current employer. Or if you’re working on something that has nothing to do with your current employer or about to start a new job, you need to identify it and get their approval.

          Had this guy said... hey I have an idea for a new chip, and Apple says that they are not going to pursue it... and you ask if you can do it on your own outside of Apple, and if they approve... then they would have no leg to stand on... until you solicit your fellow coworkers to also join in.

          Bottom line. If this bozo, and yes he’s a bozo , had talked w an attorney before doing this... he wouldn’t have been sued.

          And yes, I’ve walked away from a couple of things because I didn’t want to face a frivolous lawsuit.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Alexmcm It would be nice

            Judging by the downvote there's at least one person who has yet to learn how to read a contract and educate him/herself about applicable law.

            You are 100% correct, and that "we own anything work related you do, even if you do it in your underpants at home" clause is (a) not new and (b) has featured over time in enough lawsuits for anyone paying attention to realise it has serious teeth. It is really not some lawyerese filler they just put in there because they are billing by the word.

            The problem I see for this guy is that the new startup is ALSO in the chip designing business, and it's thus not unreasonable to assume that he will be using expertise he has developed at Apple. He may not use straight IP, but I know I have borrowed the occasional bit of text from old reports I've written and this is a heck of a lot more complex - and that's already omitting the supply chain and manufacturing knowledge that comes with it.

            It appears the Apple hate is blinding people to the facts on the ground, and they're not good.

            However, where Apple *may* have burned its fingers is by showing they had access to text messages - I too would like to know how and why. If I recall correctly, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act considers email non-private if it's more than 6 months old, but that may not apply to messages, and there's the problem that iMessages were allegedly secure. There's also the issue that privacy may not apply as automatic as it applies in Europe, but I think California has at least some decent privacy laws on the books (not that that stops Facebook, but I digress).

            To me, that privacy aspect forms the far more interesting side of this dispute. IP theft by a leaver, meh, nothing new there, but Apple voluntarily nuking its marketing efforts, that's interesting. That will take a Trump-worthy spin to clean up..

            1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
              Boffin

              @Anon Re: @Alexmcm It would be nice

              To answer your question, its a matter of who owns the phone. Your phone, like your laptop if provided by the company, then they own the right to your texts and emails. There is no expectation of privacy. I believe this to also be true for Europe.

              Many companies offer BYOD to work. The issue though it that it now opens you up to being forced to surrender your phone to your employer. Where I work... I now have to carry 2 phones. My personal one and my company one. When I travel outside the country, I don't take my personal phone or laptop. Why? Because I don't need it and I don't have to worry about losing it or surrendering to border patrol. Not that I have anything to hide, its one less thing I have to carry.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Anon @Alexmcm It would be nice

                To answer your question, its a matter of who owns the phone. Your phone, like your laptop if provided by the company, then they own the right to your texts and emails. There is no expectation of privacy. I believe this to also be true for Europe.

                It's a tad more complicated in Europe, as demonstrated by the cases that came up when Europe started to get serious about privacy (I'm old enough to remember that :) ). In Europe, your right to privacy is a default but you can sign it away under circumstances such as using company equipment and facilities such as email. However, that MUST be done if the company wants to claim access to your email, otherwise the default stance is that your email is private and release and access is thus under your control. Since these cases, a clause is now added to contracts of employment that the employee agrees to an absence of privacy on company equipment and resources, usually accompanied by a policy that personal use must be declared and agreed, just to prevent complications and conflicts with audit regimes as found in, for instance, the financial services industry.

                The European default is thus "private", irrespective of the origin of the resources and equipment.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It would be nice

        Privacy matters aside...it should be determined if Apple would have funded his research and development as an internal project and whether they would buy back the IP.

        If the answer is no then the point is moot.

        You can't stop people pursuing an idea if you've refused to let them explore it via internal channels.

        I'm not sure how this looks in a permie contract because I'm a contractor, but in all of my contracts I add a clause regarding any IP that I create. Basically, while I'm contracted they can use any technology that I invent for free but if they wish continue using it after I've gone they need to either license it off me or buy it. The decision is left at my discretion. Usually I don't enforce the clause...I only invoke it if I've been stiffed on payment (extremely rare) or the IP is rolled into a product that is resold to third parties or customers (slightly less rare).

        Usually, the result is some sort of lump payment. Not as much as you'd think but enough for me to be happy. I'm not a greedy man...a couple of grand is usually enough.

  2. doggybreath

    If Apple owned the iDevices involved, then Apple has a right to the contents, including messages, even in California.

    If Apple can prove Williams recruited others using his Apple-owned iDevice or while on Apple property, they've got a case.

    IANAL

    1. Woodnag

      When I was interviewing at Fruit, you had to buy your own phone. That may have changed since of course...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If Apple owned the iDevices involved...

      Apple's whole arguments for not allowing people to fix their own devices is basically that Apple owns all iDevices even after they are sold.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "If I own a bank, I do not own the customers' money in it, even in California. ItooANAL, but even I can see the flaw in your argument."

        Actually, you do. In a bank, there is no pile of notes labelled "John Smith's cash". All the cash in a bank (but not in the pockets of the people in the bank) belongs to the bank. What customers have is an account with the bank, and they are creditors. Almost always such creditors are insured by the national government, which makes it different from a general creditor, but no, you don't own any of the cash in your bank.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Benson's Cycle, like a lot of people, doesn't understand a lot of what they think they understand.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Doesn't understand what he thinks he understands"

            Yep, us optimists thought that, after Eternal September, relatively easy access to virtually the entirety of human knowledge would make people smarter, but instead it has turned the Dunning Kruger effect into a mainstay of modern thinking.

            Thank God for the commentardariat on El Reg, about the only place you can be guaranteed to be put right by people who know a lot more than you do (I've probably learned more here than anywhere else).

        2. ST Silver badge
          WTF?

          > All the cash in a bank (but not in the pockets of the people in the bank) belongs to the bank.

          NO. You have no clue what you are talking about.

          A bank takes deposits. That money does not belong to the bank, it is not the property of the bank and it never becomes the property of the bank. It is the property of the bank account holder who deposited said money in said account at the bank.

          A bank deposit is not a loan of any kind. Loans have terms attached to them. Maturity, payments, prepayments, interest rate, APR, APY, tranches, etc.

          A bank deposit does not have terms attached to them. Not all bank deposits are required to pay interest. The depositor is entitled to withdraw their money at any time, for any reason or no reason, and without notice.

          In the case of a loan, the bank can only recall a loan pursuant to the terms and conditions of the loan paper.

          The reason FDIC - deposit insurance - exists is for the case when the bank becomes insolvent and cannot return the deposits plus interest - if any - back to their rightful owners.

          So no, a bank is not a lawful racketeering organization that engages in confiscating other people's money.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            "NO. You have no clue what you are talking about."

            I have just checked, and this appears dependent on where you live. If you live in the US, it appears to be your money and not the banks. If you live in the UK, it's definitely the bank's money and not yours.

            I live in the UK, and so I am right. If you live in the US, you are also right. You mention FDIC rather than FSCS, so you are probably American. And your complete reluctance to countenance the idea of other countries' legal systems to be different also suggests that.

            Edit: checked more, and it appears that you might be wrong. I cannot seem to find a definitive answer in the US, but the “Depositor Preference Rule" seems to suggest that the administrators and secured creditors come before depositors in the event of insolvency. Contrast this with pawn brokers, for example, where they cannot just flog off your stuff if they go bankrupt.

            1. ST Silver badge
              Mushroom

              > And your complete reluctance to countenance the idea of other countries' legal systems to be different also suggests that.

              I admit that I am reluctant to accept that a country that is a member of the G7 - i.e. the UK - would allow 15th Century banking practices to be lawful and effective in 2019. That's something I would expect from Somalia. Not the UK.

              See, we stupid Americans do not accept the idea that a bank can lawfully act like the mob and steal other people's money. Maybe that's one of the reasons we parted ways in 1776. We knew better.

              Demand better from your banks. Currently, they suck.

              1. DavCrav Silver badge

                "See, we stupid Americans do not accept the idea that a bank can lawfully act like the mob and steal other people's money. Maybe that's one of the reasons we parted ways in 1776. We knew better."

                And yet, this is also true in the US. As I explained, even in the US you do not own the money in banks. It would not be possible to operate a bank where the depositors owned the money, as what exactly is loaned to other people? Did your money get loaned to the people that paid their mortgage back, or to those that defaulted? And who goes to jail for theft if the bank collapses, and takes your money with it?

                If I lend you $10, you own that particular $10 bill, and you also owe me $10. If you then go bankrupt, you cannot be done for theft. When you deposit money in a bank, you are lending it to them. You become an unsecured creditor, in the US, UK, Canada, and every other country in the world, unless you can give me a single example where that isn't true. (I don't accept 'I said so' as evidence. I can prove to you that depositors are unsecured creditors in the US, and I bet you cannot prove that you own the money in the bank vault.)

                If you want that system, get a safety deposit box.

          2. DavCrav Silver badge

            It's now too late to edit my post further. You must be wrong, from a logical perspective.

            Suppose the bank collapses, and you have $300k on deposit. You get back $250k, as per FDIC insurance. Who has stolen the other $50k? If it is your property, then it has been stolen by someone, but I'm pretty sure there's nobody you can have arrested for theft.

            Since your property has not been stolen (compare with pawn brokers, for example, where in the event of a collapse the administrators cannot take your jewellery), it follows that it was never your money to begin with, and you are a creditor just like anyone else. You are an insured, unsecured creditor, just like a bondholder who has a CDS.

          3. katrinab Silver badge

            A bank deposit is a loan to the bank. The terms will be repayable on demand for a current (checking) or instant access deposit account. For a treasury deposit (CD), the terms might be 3 months, 6 months, or whatever, at a fixed rate of interest.

            The rules are different for a prepaid card. There it is your money and has to be kept in a ringfenced bank account.

          4. David Nash

            Of course a deposit is a loan

            Loans and deposits are the same thing but the parties are the other way round. And no, not all deposits pay interest but that's down to the specific terms of the deposit/loan, as are the details of where how much can be paid back and when.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I thought banking worked on the Northern brokering system.

          Customer: Ayup. Ee I AVE ere IOUs.

          Bank: OI?

          Customer: I, I'll and over these ere IOUs and UOI.

          Bank: IOU smashin.

          Customer: Happen UOI my IOU but U and im there part of my IOUs...UOI a fraction more o them IOUs.

          Customer 2: Ayup. I need some IOUs.

          Bank: Happen. IO IM UO ME. Savvy?

          Customer 2: Aye. IOU UO im. Ee gets more IOUs. Smashin.

          Customer 1: Gradely.

          Customer2: Gradely.

          Bank: Gradely.

          1. TimMaher Bronze badge
            Happy

            Well. I’ll go to the foot of our stairs!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Get out t'bloody road yer daft apeth.

          2. keith_w

            I understood that. I haven't lived in Northern England since I was 5 1/2, and have rarely spoken to my relatives in the 60+ years since. It must have been the "larn to spik jordie" book my mam had.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Ah well...I'm half Manc, half Geordie with a grandad from Lincoln and a grandad from Yorkshire. I'm as Northern as it gets and I can tell you Geordie is nothing like Yorkie. It's probably one of the more impenetrable dialects.

              Yorkie is by far the funniest though, I love the clusters of words you can create to mentally wreck someone.

              "You can't do that there here, anywhere else you can do that there but you can't do that there here."

              Manc is my favourite though. There is no accent like it for swearing like a sailor. It's the wrecking ball of English accents, it's at the cutting edge of tech as far as accents are concerned. You need few words in a Manc accent to fill someone's keks.

              I live down south now and listening to southerners attempt sweary angry outbursts is weak.

              "You fackin cant"

              "You fackin startin mate? You orfter a foight?"

              It's like listening to a pair of foxes shagging.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not even the customer owns it. All cash is is an IOU. Banks just manage IOUs on behalf of people that own IOUs. They also lend out customers IOUs to other customers and charge interest. Which creates more IOUs that are split between the bank and the customer that requested that the bank manage their IOUs. This is called fractional reserve IOUing.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Paper money is an IOU issued by the government, or in 4 countries - Scotland, Northern Ireland, Hong Kong, & Macau, by a commercial bank. Coins are actual money with the value certified by the government.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            That's a very old notion, which has not been valid for decades (or more), at least here in the Netherlands.

            I'm not sure, but it might be invalid as well for other countries. Just a bit like the citizen-thing in the US.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Yet I've never seen a bank that didn't think and act like it ALL belonged to them.

    4. steviebuk Silver badge

      Don't know why the downvotes as you may have a point. Although I hate Apple, and appears shit what they are doing. It feels like "What?! You're leaving? But we need you, you can't leave. If you do, we'll DESTROY YOU".

      However, back when Apple started due to the magic that is Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs being the knob he was said something along the lines of (having read Steve Wozniak's book, although might have been also mentioned in Steve Jobs book) "Lets start up a company with the computer you've built." But Wozniak pointed out to him, that Wozniak had to ask HP first, because it was while at HP, on HP's hours that he'd been working on it and designing it so he had to legally ask them if they wanted it first. They had no interest so Apple was born.

      Apple need to be stopped in trying to prevent high profile staff into ever working again in the same field, but if he was creating his company during work hours at Apple and they can prove it, then he might be a bit fucked. Equally, if he's deleted all data from devices and Apple "restores" the data and we all find out, they'll be fucking themselves over slightly (appears no matter what shit Apple do, the followers will ignore) because the amount of phones, tablets that die and Apple claim "The data is gone, you can't restore it", then Jessa Jones from iPad Rehab proves they are talking bollocks.

      Really can't stand Apple or at least its culture.

      1. The Man Who Fell To Earth
        Alert

        The Courts in California have very consistently ruled against non-compete clauses in employment contracts going back decades. Even in the 1990's, when I last worked in SV, they were known to not be worth the paper they were printed on.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          That would be nice. I wonder, however, if they're talking about other, more enforceable contracts. Two that come to mind are proprietary information protection contracts, if he is using any of the plans he developed while there, and a general employment contract, if they can argue he used company property or spent time at work acting against the interests of the company. The latter might sound like a noncompete, but it's a little different in that it only applies to what you do while ostensibly performing your job. I don't know if they're trying to argue on one of those bases because I haven't bothered reading the linked documents and the article described the situation but didn't go into detail on the arguments. Even if they do, they may have trouble enforcing that, especially if their data capture was from non-corporate devices (and if that's the case, let them fail badly).

  3. bigtimehustler

    Duty of loyalty, that makes me laugh, you mean the loyalty so many companies show to their employees if it doesn't suit. No employee owes a company loyalty, just as much as no company would expect to perpetually employ a person out of loyalty.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      No employee owes a company loyalty and an ex-employee should be able to get really rude about them.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Loyalty....

      https://dilbert.com/strip/2019-11-23

      Anyway usually it's a classic case of "what you give is what you get". Usually, companies that treat employees like "expendable resources" can't expect much loyalty.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Loyalty....

        Anyway usually it's a classic case of "what you give is what you get". Usually, companies that treat employees like "expendable resources" can't expect much loyalty.

        I've often said my loyalty to IBM (on those unfortunate occasions when I've worked there) extended just as far as their loyalty to me. And I would give them exactly as much notice as they had given me (which on occasion could be an hour or less).

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Duty of loyalty"

      I wonder if that's in the employment contracts where Apple employees people in "at will" States?

  4. Claverhouse Silver badge
    FAIL

    The Never-Ending Story

    After a while, Apple's old misery non-stop bellyaching ceases to be endearing and just becomes the rantings of a tiresome old git.

    I cam only surmise as an outsider, but I think Silicon Valley's first decades might have been very different if employees had never quit and started their own businesses.

    .

    That's the way the Cook, he grumbles ...

    Nice...

    1. keithzg

      Re: The Never-Ending Story

      I mean hell, Apple sure wouldn't exist if Wozniak had acted like Apple is here insisting employees have to act.

  5. Peter 39

    No-compete restrictions are very limited in California but do operate at high levels in companies. No idea whether he was at that level or not. But Apple knows this law well and will have pegged it appropriately.

    The more serious question is whether he took anything, *anything*, other than what was in his head. To do so is fatal in this environment. As is trying to recruit staff. No notebooks, no papers and certainly no electronic files of your designs. Your head is yours, and that's all.

    You can do this "involuntary spinoff" thing in California but you have to be very, very careful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >But Apple knows this law well and will have pegged it appropriately.

      That may be debatable, Apple always sue first and ask questions later.

      1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
        Holmes

        Par for the course

        When I left a company in Florida (mid 90s) I went to a startup that was designing the same sort of thing (smart payphones) but the design was a clean room implementation. That did not stop the previous company from sending me threatening letters based on 'non-compete'.

        A smart payphone ( as it was known at the time) is fundamentally a small embedded computing solution that operates as a payphone and there are only a limited number of ways to do that at least architecturally.

        Now Florida is nowhere near to being as employee friendly as California, but even then a non-compete could only be enforced for some very specific reasons.

        1. Customer lists. Taking a previous employer's customer lists is clearly a no-no (contacting those customers in a social sense is a bit more hazy - "I would like to meet you for a round of golf" sort of thing). Typically this for senior executives and sales staff.

        2. Specialised training was provided which you will be using at the new place of employment. They never gave me any training at all (and I am sure they got the better part of any knowledge transfer which they admittedly did pay for). I very much doubt that the fruity outfit could give Gerard Williams any meaningful training in integrated circuit design (he was hired because he was / is an IC design guru).

        3. Trade secrets; well, in my case I responded that there are numerous ways to make a 2 wire to 4 wire converter (which is a key item in a landline phone) and many of them had been documented in data books by the silicon vendors trying to attract engineers to their solution. I was also using a different methodology for the processing. voice prompts and so forth (using a processor that was not already 25 years old).

        There was one other reason that I do not recall (but really could not apply to engineering staff).

        In general, even in the southern states, no agreement can prevent you from working in your own skill area (unless they pay you for the two years they think they can insist on).

        After my lawyer responded they backed off (the letter rather dripped with sarcasm about their 'ancient' technology) but that sort of thing was going on then and continues to this day particularly in technology companies.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        That may be debatable, Apple always sue first and ask questions later

        More to the point, there are various reasons why a company might file a lawsuit even if it knows or suspects it's on shaky legal ground. It may well be able to get a settlement; it may well be dragging the defendant through a suit merely as punishment or as a warning to others. This may simply be a PR move, to try to harm the new firm in the press or public perception, or to scare off investors. Particularly in the US, litigation is often an end in itself, and winning very much a secondary consideration.

        1. NiceCuppaTea

          Dont forget you can also bankrupt a company via legal fees and a billion appeals processes. If they can't afford to defend themselves they must be guilty!

          When you have an army of lawyers on permanent payroll you have to give them something to do.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth
      Stop

      "But Apple knows this law well and will have pegged it appropriately."

      Maybe, but that does not mean they don't break it. Apple was part of the cabal that got it's ass nailed to the wall by the government for conspiring to not compete in hiring.

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/25/no_poaching_a_doj_no_no/

  6. David Beck

    Language?

    Anyone recognise the language in which the "counter argument" is written? It appears to be a branch of English which does not have gerunds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Language?

      I've no idea whether Apple or the ex-employee are at fault here (IANAL and all that) but can we just agree that the lawyer is guilty of horrendous abuse of the English language for the word "recordation" ("...have consented to electronic recordation of their text messages").

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Language?

        Yeah. Everyone knows "recordification" is preferred.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I read it as nottech CEO realises that without this guy....

    .....there is noone left who knows how it all works.

    Seen this sort of thing before where they pushed the tech guy to far and then realise after he left that everyone else is dead weight

  8. naylorjs

    Another language

    recordation - is that a word?

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Another language

      It is now. Apple invented it... just like they invented rounded corners.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another language

        Have to admit - after reading the headlines, but not the article, my first thought was "What did he do, design the new chips with rounded corners?"

      2. phuzz Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Another language

        Apple (or their lawyers) didn't use that word. It was from the defence (ie the person that Apple are suing).

        It's still a fucking stupid neologism though, when the word 'recording' would have fitted the sentence perfectly, and is an entirely cromulent word.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Another language

          This is the US of Any new word mangling is allowed, no compulsorised. People dont go fast there they travel at a greater rate of speed. Someone burgles your house and you have not been burgled you have been burglarized. Makes Vogon poetry sound good.

      3. NiceCuppaTea

        Re: Another language

        And now you both owe Apple £800 and a kidney as they filed the patent.

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Another language

      It might be in legalese, sure as hell not in any variant of English I know

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "Recordation"

        Actually it exists and you can find its recordation in dictionaries...

    3. Lazlo Woodbine Bronze badge

      Re: Another language

      Recordation is the act of giving a document a legal status, it's quite an old word, so definitely not the work of this current batch of lawyers

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Another language

        I stand (well sit actually) corrected.

        However...

        Is it an American word? I've never heard of it here in England

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Another language

          You would notarise a document in England.

      2. keith_w

        Re: Another language

        In that case it still doesn't mean recording your client's text or voice conversations.

      3. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Another language

        Apparently common nouns for lawyers are "Disputation, Eloquence, Escheat, Greed, Huddle, Quarrel".

        I like "quarrel of lawyers".

    4. TheProf

      recordation - is that a word?

      Yes, apparently it is.

      https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/recordation

      Although I think the, err, law-guy might have, umm, disabused it. Or sumfunk.

  9. Alister Silver badge

    electronic recordation

    Jesus fucking Christ!

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: electronic recordation

      Jesus fucking Christ!

      How does that work? Is he an onanist or what?

      1. TimMaher Bronze badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: electronic recordation

        Might explain the so called “virgin birth” though.

  10. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Apple bought a Chip Design house

    It's immoral to try and own the people too, like serfs.

    This has been going on for over a hundred years. The claim is always that the employee is "poaching staff" or customers or IP.

    Well, only the IP should be protected and some of it actually ought to have belonged to the designers (authors) and not exclusively forever to to the Employer.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple wouldn't do similar?

    Apple set up an office quite close to "Chip designer" in Hertfordshire (who Apple had recently stopped buying products from).

    Would this "encourage" employees to move and bring their knowledge with them, or would they have an iBrainWipe first?

    1. jms222

      Re: Apple wouldn't do similar?

      Apple owned part of ARM back in the day. Without Apple perhaps ARM wouldn't be where it is now.

      YesI I once worked for a company in a village in South Cambridgeshire but postally Royston. Motorola bought and gutted it.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Apple wouldn't do similar?

        What did they actually provide for ARM that was new and unique?

        1. Chappy

          Re: Apple wouldn't do similar?

          Apple gave ARM Money + A dream lead customer (i.e. lots of free marketing)

          ARM was created as a joint venture in 1990 between UK computer company Acorn, Apple, and VLSI technology who at that time manufactured the ARM processor chips for Acorn, and got a small percentage holding (5% if I remember correctly) for providing VLSI design tools to ARM for a number of years.

          Apple wanted to use ARM processors in the Apple Newton, but didn't want to buy them from a competitor in the desktop computer market, which Acorn was. Acorn wanted to spin out ARM because they couldn't afford to keep developing successive generations of CPUs and thought that spinning it out would also lead to value creation (they were right about that, SoftBank bought ARM for 32 Billon dollars).

          So Acorn transferred the ARM technology + 12 people; Apple put in some money (a million or so pounds or dollars); VLSI put in the design tools. ARM was born, and the "A" in the ARM Acronym was changed from "Acorn" to "Advanced" and "Advanced RISC Machines Ltd" was born.

          Having Apple as a customer launching a glamorous new category of hand held computer called the Newton with an ARM610 in it was pretty free good marketing too.

  12. j.bourne
    Headmaster

    Johnson would be proud

    A new word for the dictionary.

    recordation

    Does anyone not actually directly involved actually give a tinkers cuss about the rest (apart from seeing Apple fail)?

  13. ZeiXi

    "The paperwork states Apple's employment contract provisions in this case are not enforceable under California law: they argue the language amounts to a non-compete clause, which is, generally speaking, a no-no in the Golden State." - when you sign a contract you should honor the contract. Does not matter whether it is enforceable or not. Especially in a business where theft of intelligence is a very serious matter.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      FAIL

      that's just plain dumb. In addition, I'm fairly sure that when a company is incorporated the officers/board undertake to abide by the laws of the land, so by offering a contract that doesn't do this they are breaking their "contract" with the laws of the land.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      >when you sign a contract you should honor the contract. Does not matter whether it is enforceable or not.

      Remember we are talking about employment contracts, renown for containing unreasonable and exploitative clauses...

      >Especially in a business where theft of intelligence is a very serious matter.

      This doesn't seem to be a factor in this case.

  14. ZeiXi

    Theft of Intelligence

    "The paperwork states Apple's employment contract provisions in this case are not enforceable under California law: they argue the language amounts to a non-compete clause, which is, generally speaking, a no-no in the Golden State." - when you sign a contract you should honor the contract. Does not matter whether it is enforceable or not. Especially in a business where theft of intelligence is a very serious matter.

  15. cpm86
    Devil

    Just a ploy

    Just looks like Apple are taking a position so they can access the IP cheap if it turns out useful. Drag the Case out for a while and get a free licence to settle. Only one of Apple's points needs to be slghtly arguable to hold that nuisance position.

  16. WolfFan Silver badge

    About those texts

    I’m not in Kalifornia, but around here companies have the right to monitor any email, texts, or anything else which travels on their network, wired or wireless. They can’t intercept cell phone calls or texts on the cellco’s net, but it’s amazing how bad cell reception is once you step in the door, and the company usually generously provides wifi and most cell phones do wifi calling. Of course, now the calls, texts, etc., are traveling over the company net, and they have the right to monitor. Wanna bet that Apple did something similar, and that yes, they have the right to monitor those texts?

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: About those texts

      Texts (SMS) are generally carried encrypted over the network operators infrastructure and you would need access via the operator for that. If these were iMessages over the wifi, Apple are on the record(PDF) stating that they are end to end decrypted - your private keys (one per device) are only stored on your devices, so only you can decrypt (in theory - there are ways and means, but they sound nefarious and no doubt require court orders to enact in a legal fashion)

  17. Marty McFly
    Holmes

    Startup

    A startup with the hopes of being purchased by a larger company, who would have thunk it? Doesn't that describe most businesses south of Belmont & north of Saratoga?

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