IBM’s former mergers-and-acquisitions chief David Johnson is a 27-year veteran at Big Blue. Dell has not disclosed the position offered to Johnson, but IBM doesn’t want to risk valuable information if Johnson ends up in a senior strategy position.
“Mr. Johnson has possession of valuable confidential information and cannot undertake a senior strategy position at Dell without violating his obligations to IBM,” Edward Barbini, a spokesman for IBM, told Bloomberg today. Barbini went on to say that Mr. Johnson “repeatedly received significant compensation” in return for an non-compete agreement.
The news echoes IBM’s recent suit against former vice president of microprocessor technology development, Mark Papermaster, when he tried to take up a position at Apple. A federal judge ordered Papermaster to step back from his position at Apple until the matter was resolved and it later emerged that Judge Kenneth Karas felt Papermaster’s presence at Apple could cause IBM some serious damage.
During the suit, Papermaster said that after he handed in his two weeks notice and told IBM of his plans to move to Apple, he was allowed to continue to work for two full weeks with unfettered access to all of his files and to the company’s entire computer network. Papermaster alleged that this meant the company’s claim that it would suffer irreparable harm or hardship due to ’inevitable disclosure’ of ’trade secrets’ was absurd.
Eventually a settlement was reached and Papermaster was allowed to start work at Apple once he’d been out of IBM six months. Papermaster must report back to IBM in July and again in October to certify that he has not used or disclosed any important IBM information to his new employer.
I get why companies get edgy about employees leaving the fold. How many of us know things about our company that the competition would love to have?
Problem is, while I like my job and company, I didn't sign my contract in blood and I didn't marry my job. I should be able to stay with my current profession without having the option of leaving my company should a better opportunity come around.
Sadly the companies have the right to protect their secrets, this becomes especially important in cases of major strategic positions and R&D leaders. Those people would never have the knowledge had they not worked at the company in the first place, not only that but they collected huge paychecks while on payroll. Non compete agreements typically have 6 months to a year and I think it's fully justified in the cases of senior engineers.
Otherwise what you have amounts to industrial espionage. In cases like these tech firms a key R&D engineer crossing over could result in billions of damages to the company he/she originally worked for.
The sad thing is.. If he was an entry-level or mid-level employee the company wouldn't have responded. It seems they are one of the companies that does not value the dedication he had. My 2cents.
They've taken measures that seem to only have one goal in mind: Pissing everyone off possible.
This is going to continue to be a problem for IBM until they come up with an employment plan that can work for it's employees. Not just the corperate guys but also the field guys as well.
(I've stopped working with IBM completely as suplimental installations tech because they've got such piss poor attitudes about it. They went from paying decent wages to cutting me down to below avg help desk levels and harrass me if I spend more than 4 hours per install job. I'm sure you can imagine how that turned out when what they were paying was less than .1% of my income. And I know one guy who was full time with them and was layed off, so they didnt have to give benifits even after his extreme pay cuts, and then tried to invite him back after 6 months. lol, yeah right.)
IBM...stop shipping jobs over to India and focus on cleaning up your act at home. People leave IBM for a reason. (I am also an IBM ex)
This would redress the balance-of-power issues. The employer would then have a choice -- enforce the noncompete and pay up, or let the employee go.
When did IBM develop valuable information? Maybe he knows their key strategy of sticking with Lotus Notes after the industry moves on, or how to make so-so blade servers that cost 2x more than competitors', or maybe he knows about the voodoo IBM uses to determine how they are going to provide outsourced "Global Services" that are nearly impossible for clients to leverage effectively?