Startup CEO Sued by Apple

Article By : Brian Santo

Top Apple processor designer Gerard Williams left Apple in February to helm the startup. Apple is suing him for breach of contract.

Gerard Williams presided over the creation of Apple’s iPhone and iPad processors. When he bolted from Apple early in 2018 to become CEO of a startup processor company, he was tempting fate, given how common it is for corporations to induce employees to sign non-compete agreements. Unsurprisingly, fate just came calling in the form of a lawsuit against Williams from his former employer, charging him with breach of contract.

Williams left Apple in February to join Nuvia, which just emerged from stealth with news of having attracted $53 million in venture funding. The company expects to create processors for servers used in data centers, competing directly with Intel.

The company has provided scant other technical details, but many of the high-profile engineers it has hired have a lot of experience designing chips with Arm cores. That could be a coincidence, but probably not.

Apple’s lawsuit filed in August alleged Williams hid the fact he was preparing to leave Apple to start his own business while still working at Apple, and that he drew on his work in steering iPhone processor design to create his new company.

Apple is additionally charging Williams with luring away other Apple engineers, also allegedly in breach of his contract.

“Unfortunately, rather than exploiting the technology he was working on for Apple, Williams secretly considered how he could take an opportunity to exploit that technology from Apple,” according to the court document filed by Apple. “Williams boasted about starting a new company with technology that he was working on at Apple, that he believed Apple ‘needed’ and that he believed Apple would have no choice but to purchase.”

Williams “demurred” in a legal response his lawyers filed in November with the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara. Apple’s claims, Williams’ lawyers say, are not enforceable under California law. Furthermore, he isn’t guilty of what he was accused of anyway.

Williams has a hearing set for Jan. 21 to try to get the case dismissed. Williams and his lawyers claim Apple’s lawsuit is “desperate effort to shut down lawful employment by a former employee.”

Nuvia was unable to respond to questions after business hours last night.

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