(Reuters) – Attorneys for a former Apple Inc (AAPL.O) executive on Tuesday will try to convince a skeptical judge of a core tenet of tech startup culture – that employees can plan a competing venture while still in a job.
Apple’s lawsuit against a former chip executive-turned-rival will have implications for employees all over California who are considering striking out on their own and creating the startups that drive tech business and culture.
California’s long-held public policy favors employee mobility in contrast to states that allow strong non-compete agreements. That stance allowed for the “traitorous eight” who left their jobs at Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory for a rival in the late 1950s and who eventually spawned dozens of companies, including Intel Corp (INTC.O).
Apple filed the lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court against Gerard Williams III, who left the company last year after more than nine years as chief architect for the custom processors that power iPhones and iPads to start Nuvia Inc, which is designing chips for servers.
Judge Mark H. Pierce last week issued a tentative ruling allowing the case to proceed but barring Apple from seeking punitive damages. Pierce will decide after a hearing on Tuesday whether to make his ruling final.