Let it be said, Apple is not afraid to take people to court. The company’s latest beef involves Gerard Williams, a former employee who purportedly spearheaded the design for Apple’s A-series processors. You know, the itty bits of silicon that have powered Apple’s marquee gadgets since the iPhone 5S.
Williams left Apple earlier this year to start up his own semiconductor company Nuvia – and that’s where the trouble starts. According to court documents obtained by The Register, Apple’s initial complaint was filed back in August. It claims that 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”. It goes on to allege that Williams knew what he was doing was wrong and that he told some coworkers that his new venture was operating in ‘stealth mode.’ In a motion filed last Friday to the Santa Clara Superior Court in California, Apple further contends Williams broke the terms of his employment contract by “secretly us[ing] Apple’s resources to start a competing venture on Apple’s dime”.
Nuvia announced in November that it had raised £40 million in Series A funding, and according to the release, the company also counts John Bruno and Manu Gulati as cofounders. Both are former Apple chip designers who were then poached by Google. As for Nuvia’s goals, the release resorts to vague corporate speak. “Nuvia was founded in early 2019 with the goal of reimagining silicon design to deliver industry-leading performance and energy efficiency for the data centre,” the release reads. Essentially, silicon for data centres leveraging Bruno, Gulati and Williams’ storied histories at big-name tech companies including Google, Apple, ARM, Broadcom and AMD.
Things get even more interesting, however. In two separate filings, Williams has alleged Apple illegally violated his privacy by collecting and monitoring his text messages with his cofounders, as well as other Apple employees. Indeed, the initial complaint does contain some snippets of conversations dating back to 2015. In his initial countersuit, Williams argues, “To further intimidate any current Apple employee who might dare consider leaving Apple, Apple’s Complaint shows that it is monitoring and examining its employees’ phone records and text messages, in a stunning and disquieting invasion of privacy.” A subsequent motion reads, “Nowhere in its Complaint, however, did Apple allege that it obtained consent to collect and review these text messages or telephone records.” Williams also contends that Apple’s ‘breach of contract’ claim is unenforceable.
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