Apple's Lawsuit Against its Former Lead Chip Designer Is Moving Forward

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Apple's lawsuit against its former lead chip designer is moving forward. Bloomberg reported Sunday that Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce rejected Gerard Williams III's request to dismiss his former employer's lawsuit against him.

Williams III led development of Apple's chips from 2013 to March 2019. He co-founded a new company, Nuvia, that left stealth in November 2019 when it revealed its data center-focused Phoenix processor. Apple's lawsuit arrived one month later.

Apple claimed that Williams III broke his employment contract by making plans to form his own company while still working at Apple, using the knowledge he gained working on Apple's chips to establish Nuvia and "stealing" other Apple employees.

Williams III said the relevant part of his employment contract violated a California law, and that the company's citation of text conversations he had with other Apple employees violated his right to privacy. He asked for the lawsuit to be thrown out.

Judge Mark Pierce said the California law doesn't allow employees "to plan and prepare to create a competitive enterprise prior to termination if the employee does so on their employer’s time and with the employer’s resources," per Bloomberg.

That doesn't mean Apple's won the lawsuit--it simply means that the lawsuit will be allowed to move forward. The rest of the process (or, as some would call it, rigmarole) should be able to continue despite Williams III's protest.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • bit_user
    If the leaked texts are true, I'm with Apple on this one. And I rarely side with Apple.

    Just the hubris and greed of that dude... he must already have made more than enough off his Apple stock options to retire, but he decided he could pull a fast one on them and build a CPU that he could turn around and sell them? It just seems so sleazy.

    I'm sure he could've gotten a nice raise & bonus by going to Google, Intel, AMD, Amazon, Microsoft, or others.