For Now, IBM Can't Stop Former M&A Chief from Going to Work for Dell


Six months ago, IBM and Apple settled a dispute arising from Apple's hiring of IBM's blade development VP, Mark Papermaster, to head iPhone and iPod engineering. IBM had sued Apple, arguing that Papermaster had violated a non-compete agreement. Under the terms of the settlement, Papermaster began work at Apple on April 24, and he is responsible for proving that he has not and will not give away IBM's trade secrets and other intellectual property.


This week, IBM got bad news in a similar suit -- this time with Dell. InformationWeek's Paul McDougall writes:

In denying IBM's request for an injunction that would have David Johnson on the sidelines until a final ruling is delivered on Big Blue's breach of contract case against the executive, Judge Stephen Robinson, of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said Friday that IBM "overstated" its case.

Johnson, IBM's former M&A head, was slated to take a position as Dell's senior VP for strategy when IBM sued to enjoin him from taking the position, arguing that doing so would violate a non-compete agreement. The judge said Johnson was not in possession of trade secrets or other intellectual property that, if disclosed, would harm IBM. On the flip site, an injunction would create financial hardship for Johnson.


Maybe next time IBM wants to sue on a non-compete, someone should think again -- or at least make sure its case is solid before requesting an injunction.