A new data-processing chip may be poised to set the next standard for data centers, but the lead and his new startup must first get past legal challenges brought by Apple. The tech giant brought several claims to bear against a former employee and his new company, Nuvia. Apple’s list of complaints includes breach of contract and intellectual property theft. A look at state law and similar cases provides insight on the possible outcomes.
The man served Apple as a chief processor architect over six months prior to going public with Nuvia. Apple claimed in a complaint filed in California that the former employee used knowledge gained working at Apple, violated duty of loyalty and recruited other design executives. The breach of contract charge related to the contract signed in the course of his employment.
One of the hurdles Apple faces in pursuing damages is that non-compete agreements are expressly illegal in California and restricted in other states. The former employee claimed that the contract language fell under the definition of non-compete agreement. The more resilient intellectual property dispute and breach of duty of loyalty may rely too heavily on inadmissible evidence, according to one author writing on the topic. The founder of Nuvia has countered that Apple violated privacy laws by stealing SMS messages between him and another employee.
Protecting intellectual property often relies upon implementing numerous safeguards and fighting to ensure that legal definitions favor one’s efforts. However, legislatures and courts of various jurisdictions have taken different paths in balancing property protection and the entrepreneur’s legal concerns with growing a business. Whether protecting existing investments or the right to start a new venture, attorneys with experience in business litigation under Colorado law may be able to help interpret the law, provide viable safeguards and protect the right to profit from investments in intangible property.