California is much more strict, and several of the assertions don't appear to hold up in my understanding of employment IP law (IANAL but have hired many people and have dealt with several close employee cases on both sides - company and employee -- over the years). The lines in the law are pretty clear and broad.
Most strikingly to me from the complaint is the fact that apple claims that he 1> used his design knowledge to found another company (jeez, people do this all the time) and 2> did so while working at apple (ditto).
The worst thing you can do is use Apple's property to start another company, which is a strict no-no. But apple doesn't claim he used an apple-issued phone (or computer) to set up NuVia, and if they thought that it would be a trump card they'd brandish right up front. Instead they have the weak "knowledge" grounds which is pretty vague.
Likewise they claim he solicited employees, but non solicitation clauses are likewise no longer enforceable in CA as of this year.
This smacks of intimidation: they don't care if they lose; they want others to know that if you leave apple to start a company or work for a competitor they'll sock you with an expensive and distracting legal battle. Which is pretty sad given that Apple was on the receiving (and losing) end of such a case a few years ago...relating chip design!
IANAL, but my impression having read through the actual file is that most of the claims are on the basis of this fellow allegedly having done all these things while employed at Apple. Apple alleges that he was routinely working on his own business, conducting phone calls related to that business, etc, while in the office, and that he was actively recruiting his coworkers before he had left the company.
I'm never a fan of big companies stomping on previous employees, but it sounds to me like the crux of the case is based around point (2). Had he quit the company and then founded his startup and poached his old coworkers - that would likely have been consistent with the law. But if he did indeed do these things _while still actively working there_ then his contract would have been in place at the time and therefore breachable.
Before leaving I assumed that is after he handed over his resignation?
Not sure if the administrative work or poaching is before or after that.
It's still in progress, but it's one of those things that immediately rules Texas out as an option. It's really amazing how bad it is out there .
Is there such a thing as software workers' lobby or something? The problem appears to be that, we developers negotiate individually at hiring time against corporations that are effectively acting collectively.
Also as a high ranking employee he had access to not only Apple's proprietary information about chips, he also knew about corporate strategy and future business plans. His business plans included designing chips that he knew Apple was planning to use in the future and could undercut the pricing of other competitors.
He'd be fine if he was just an employee going from one company to another, but a manager taking a bunch of employees to start up a competitor is definitely a situation where a non-compete is enforceable.
> Non-compete agreements are automatically void as a matter of law in California, except for a small set of specific situations expressly authorized by statute.
> There are limited situations where a reasonable non-compete agreement may be valid in California.
> Where the owner of a business is selling the entire business, or is selling the goodwill in the business, the seller may be bound by a non-compete clause.
> When there is a dissolution or disassociation of a partnership.
> Where there is a dissolution of a limited liability company.
Also, the enforcement of an employee non-solicitation clause, which prohibits former employees from reaching out to former coworkers to try to hire them at their new workplace, is also not the issue here -- non-solicitation clauses prevent former employees from poaching current employees -- true, those aren't enforceable under California law, but what is enforceable is that this solicitation happened while the guy was still working at Apple, potentially using Apple resources or facilities. Non-competes and non-solicitations aren't valid in California, however those don't apply while the person is still working for the company in question. The basis of the suit isn't that he started his own company -- it's that he started his own company while working at Apple with the intent to compete with Apple, using Apple-owned IP and Apple employees.
If Apple had a helicopter project and an engineer was working on it at Apple, he couldn't take the plans for the helicopter, recruit co-workers then start a helicopter company using those plans. He could leave Apple, then develop his own plans for a helicopter, then hire Apple employees -- that would be legal under California law, but what would be a breach of contract would be using the specific IP developed while at Apple.
The other question isn't about "enforceable" contracts in so much as the fact that the guy signed a contract when he was hired at Apple. Enforceable or not, he agreed to the employment terms and probably happily accepted Apple stock and other compensation in exchange for his work on developing IP for Apple -- IP that he is taking to his new venture specifically to sell it back to Apple. Regardless of the enforceability of the contract, it's pretty sleazy.
It seems completely reasonable to me that there will be ARM-based desktops and laptops from Apple in the next five years and that they plan to offer them in hardware or software configurations that are suited to server work; macOS Server is still a thing.
I three-quarters expected, when the new Mac Pro was announced a year or two ago, that it would be the first ARM-based desktop Mac. I was wrong, but I think I was wrong on timing, not on whether it would eventually happen. Apple cares a lot about having control of every key technology that makes up its offerings.
It is? With no server hardware except for maybe a rack-mounted Mac Pro ( which doesn't really strike me as server grade hardware) and most of the actual server services gutted?
 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Pro#Mac_Pro_Server & https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Mini#Mac_mini_Server
That isn't true.
"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.”"
> He's just going off and doing something else.
Also not true. He started the company to sell tech he developed at Apple, back to Apple.
> He started the company to sell tech he developed at Apple, back to Apple.
If this is so clear cut, Apple will have a lot easier time in court. On the contrary, this is exactly what Apple needs to prove in this case.
True, but even before these allegation it is also widely believe to be the case on HN .
I am not surprised not only because designing and selling chips is hard, but also because Apple has a history of acqui-hire startup with previous employees. Tim Cook mention they make nearly close to 1 acquisition per week, since the value is so small ( compare to Apple's cash holding ) they dont even need to disclose it.
And he did sign an Intellectual Property Agreement, which is included in the filing on page 15.
And Apple is not alleging violations of their IP. They are alleging that he learned non-Apple-IP things during his time at Apple and is now using that knowledge at his new company.
Ah yes, because they have money and power. Sounds familiar.
I think I get the argument – "how could society function if every employee were allowed to actively sabotage the company they worked for?" – I just don't buy it. Most people have no interest in doing such things. The law of large numbers seems to guarantee it won't be a big problem in practice. And I'm more in the "Let employees have civil liberties" camp than "Let companies protect themselves from any conceivable harm." And besides, we have a clear remedy for employees who sabotage their companies: fire them.
From a cursory reading, it sounds like this person used his technical expertise to go start a startup, and tried to recruit some of his peers to leave their cushy bigco job and go help him. Y'know who else did that? Shockley Semiconductor.
Steve Jobs himself also recruited some folks from Apple when he left to found Next.
"Over the previous six months, Jobs had kept in contact with some of the senior staff in the Macintosh division, even after Gassée took control. Five of these staffers agreed to become cofounders of the new company with Jobs. Chief among these were Bud Tribble, Susan Barnes, and Dan’l Lewin." 
"After several months of being sidelined, Jobs resigned from Apple on September 13, 1985. He told the board he was leaving to set up a new computer company, and that he would be taking several Apple employees from the SuperMicro division with him." 
He also intended on licensing the tech to Apple, according to those sources.
He told the board he was leaving to set up a new computer company, and that he would be taking several Apple employees from the SuperMicro division with him
i.e The board were both acknowledged and have a common interest.
Employees do not owe their employers their undivided loyalty.
The lowest-level employees don't owe their employer anything when their shift ends. They're free to work for a competitor for the next 8 hours if they choose.
Salaried employees generally don't owe their employer anything once they leave the office and stop work for the day...though only in a few states like CA are workers granted explicit protections for their extracurricular ventures.
Only executives might owe undivided loyalty, and even then that is a provision of the employment contract that must be explicitly negotiated and paid for by the employer.
May be in CA, but many part of the world this is not true.
>Only executives might owe undivided loyalty, and even then that is a provision of the employment contract that must be explicitly negotiated and paid for by the employer.
Which is exactly what is happening. He was only two or three level below Tim Cook.
Non-solicit clauses in contracts are commonplace and I've never met someone in CA who doesn't think they have legitimacy. If he was dumb enough to directly solicit instead of making himself available for people to reach out to, if they chose to, that's on him. But I'd like to know if this is an invalid folk-belief.
Edit: above was paywalled, and I didn't realize I was trial-viewing it. Think this is free for all:
They were only questionably enforceable before too, since they still amounted to a contract restriction limiting someone's employment opportunities (in this case, the person being recruited).
While CA does codify non-competes (and now non-solicits) are void, general interpretation was that any restrictive contract clause wasn't going to fly in court except under very specific circumstances. CA takes a very dim view of restricting job mobility.
Ethically, totally slack if he recruited while still employed, of course, and if he literally did it at work I suspect he'll run into a "using company resources (time, building, hipchat channel, etc)" issue, which is one of the things that severely weakens a defense that whatever you do yourself, you still own.
No idea how or if that applies at a high-level action like starting a company, but if he had any technical contribution I could definitely see it coming up.
In CA, soliciting your fellow employees is perfectly permissible. As of 2019, this is a blanket rule for all employees, including executives, because courts have determined that non-solicit clauses violates multiple CA labor laws (including the prohibition on non-competes).
However, executives may be subject to non-compete clauses in their employment contract. Executives, as highly-compensated employees, are exempt from CA prohibitions on non-compete clauses. Solicitation activity might violate the non-compete if the executive is going into a new business that directly competes with the actual activities of the old employer, but as a practical matter this can't really occur since the executive couldn't take the new job until after the non-compete period ends.
> while employed at Apple
That's the key. You can solicit after you aren't employed by the company. But that isn't the case here.
In CA it's always been legal to solicit employees after you left your old job. Recent court cases simply clarified that this has always been the case, and that the same law invalidating non-competes applies to non-solicits.
And the 2019 case explicitly says that a non-solicit applying during the term of employment was illegal as a matter of CA law.
I'd be nice to see comparisons that might include intellectual property issues.
The other permutation would be the difference in legal treatment with and without an explicit contract. In other words, what do the laws say in each State if someone just hires you and you do not sign any contracts at all vs. the legality of various signed agreements (for example, non-compete).
However, I think the explicit codification also prevents that. AFAIK, once something is in state code as a requirement/prohibited/void action you can't personally waive that.
All the contracts I've seen in California have a disclosure sheet of the law, specifically non-solicitation and IP ownership (on company time/premises with company resources) and don't ask you to waive rights.
My initial expansive statement is based on this personal experience and on discussions with recruitment agents and senior developer friends who have been in the area longer than me, they all told me it is the norm in the industry. Though I admit most of my professional career has been spent on Wall Street and the City in London, so I don't know, maybe I'm misguided?
Paragraph 24 is interesting. Apple’s breach of contract claim is based on Williams’ alleged creation of a competing business in violation of his Intellectual Property Agreement with Apple. Apple appears to concede that Nuvia is targeted to servers and Apple doesn’t make servers. So they have a hook in there that they’ve considered developing or customizing servers. (As a factual matter, I’m not sure anybody would consider customizing servers for internal use to be in competition with selling chips for commercial servers, but that seems to be Apple’s story.)
It’s not clear what Apple’s beef is. Nuvia’s founder clearly did some organizational work while he was at Apple. Maybe that’s enough to technically breach the agreement. (Or maybe not. Without purporting to know anything about California employment law, Nuvia’s motion to dismiss seems pretty robust in its reliance on California law and public policy against non-competes and restraints on employment, as well as preemption of the contract action by trade secrets law.) But what I’m curious about is what Apple thinks the damages are from Nuvia starting a business in a sector (servers) Apple hasn’t competed in for more than a decade?
It’s also curious Apple didn’t bring a trade secrets claim. The architecture of Cyclone, etc., is famously under wraps compared to AMD and Intel’s designs. Apple has gotten amazing performance out of these chips, but nobody is entirely sure how they’re doing it.
 Obligatory disclaimer: Not barred in California, not an employment lawyer, etc. For entertainment purposes only.
I would be super interested if anybody has any counterexample - even a single one would be interesting.
This isn't exactly the same as the Levandowski case, but it sure rhymes.
In the absence of blatant coordination with Kalanick, I think Levandowski would have walked.
Everyone expects Apple to switch to ARM chips sooner or later for their laptops and desktops. Their A CPUs would probably already be fast enough for entry level Macbooks, but they still need some higher wattage versions for big Macbooks and desktops. I'm also not sure how good Apples chips are with regard to virtualisation features.
These are all things that would be useful for servers, but Apple needs them for their high end desktops as well. (And Apple won't announce in a court filing that they are working on ARM CPUs for the Mac)
Rumor has it that new chips will ship with EL2 implemented.
I’m genuinely curious what you think apples strategy is here. If their performance is so much better than intel, wouldn’t it reason that they are worried he could slip Intel proprietary knowledge under the guise of “servers” that they then reuse for other things... but if that’s true then why not, ask you ask, bring a trade secrets claim? I’m curious about how you see the legal strategy - is a trade secret claim harder to prove?
From Apple's website:
"For customers who want to rack mount their Mac Pro in edit bays or machine rooms, an optimized version for rack deployment will be available this fall." 
 - https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/06/apple-unveils-powerfu...
Is there a legal definition of ‘server’? Genuinely curious. I ask because today Apple announced the Mac Pro rack-mount edition, which seems oriented to datacenter deployments.
>it’s not clear what Apple’s beef is.
Consider this scenario, Apple has a Server / Mac Pro / High Power ARM Chip Design for their own use. Their employees quit and brought this design to a new company and sell it on open market.
Would this be clear where Apple's beef is?
( Hypothetically Speaking only )
While I don't disagree with anything you are saying, I will note that Apple is kinda back in the server game, given that Mac OS server is still a thing, and now (or soon) there is a rack mounted Mac offering again...
Aww, I liked my Xserve.
The rumour back then was that they want to port either OS X or iOS to Linux. Now I believe they just wanted to run Linux on those server chips.
You seriously believe they'll chuck that in the bin?
Heck, even sharing files from your Mac to your Apple TV needs Apple's blessing before it'll AirPlay to it (via iTunes, not sure on whatever they're using now).
They will never ever ever ever adopt the Linux kernel.
Take steps internally to fix this. It isn't a bad look to step down. In fact, you'll improve your standing if you consider how the engineering community views this.
This action is hostile and will greatly impact your hiring and retention of talent.
People venerate Jobs for being they stereotypical drive-people-to-death toxic boss, but he was also the "take credit for everyone else's ideas" toxic boss.
They are famous for destroying anyone who leaks. It's admirable that they don't leak, but their methods for cracking down on leaks are draconian, to say the least. This includes illegally spying on employees.
They participated in the cartel that engaged in wage-fixing and limiting employee mobility. They were sued by employees for denying breaks that were mandated by law.
And on and on.
It is unsurprising that they are harsh to former employees. When you look at their stance relative to their current employees, it would be surprising if they took a "live and let live" approach to those who leave.
People say that using Apple products is a cult, and liking their products is "drinking the kool-aid.". I say that working for Apple is joining an abusive, tyrannical cult, and if you don't know where the expression "drinking the kool-aid" came from, you ought to find out before working there.
(Serious question) I tried Googling it but all the results are either about this article (Google is obsessed with newness) or about employees suing Apple, not the other way around.
Apple may be in the wrong, but I can't imagine the average potential hire giving a shit at this point.
It's pretty easy to see the huge conflicts of interest here.
I'm sorry, but when I go home at night and choose to spend my remaining hours awake on my own project, that's 100% mine. I bought and paid for it. Instead of spending time with friends or loved ones, playing video games, going out and having fun, I labored.
> wandered the hallways recruiting people for it
This makes it sound like you can't have professional relationships or friends at work. Or that you wouldn't want to work with those people after joining another company.
The problem comes in when you blur the lines between your personal project and what you are paid by Apple to do. At what point are you working on your thing versus Apple's and who is paying you to do it?
The big question is what he was doing while purportedly on the clock. Was he using Apple provided hardware, software, and time to further his own personal ends?
> This makes it sound like you can't have professional relationships or friends at work.
Ethics are hard, lines are blurry. It's best to avoid the blurry bits and keep to the places where you are clearly in the right.
Maintaining relationships while working is fine. Recruiting for a side business on the other hand is a clear conflict of interest and crosses an ethical threshold IMO.
Calling your existing friends up after you quit and offering them jobs is fine.
I have no idea what this guy did, but it sounds like he was definitely in the grey areas of ethics and from the sounds of it the law.
It's unethical, arguably, but most companies show again and again that they're willing to behave unethically toward their employees, so I'm not sure why I should feel bad for them given that employment is a two-way business relationship. The pervasive focus on employees being "bad employees" and simultaneous tacit acceptance of corporate dickishness is an insidious and toxic double standard that should not be tolerated.
What the company isn't doing is billing you for the time they spend doing it, or having you spend your free time doing it while you are at home.
What someone does in their own free time with their own resources is their business. What they do while they are at work, getting paid is "company" business and should be treated as such.
Beyond this, I find it ridiculous that you're comparing humans with thoughts and feelings and limited time on this earth to wholly inanimate corporations. We should err on the side of giving humans more freedom and liberty.
That's exactly what Apple this case is about, an employee who is being accused of using his employer's time, money, and resources to not just search for a better job, but to create a multi-million dollar company.
What basis remains upon which they can claim that I used "their" time and/or their resources and/or their equipment to conduct personal business?
particularly for anyone in software you have to heavily weight how good apple will look on your resume vs just submitting code to random open source projects.
As a hiring manager I definitely prioritize people who have code I can view vs people who's code has been locked in somewhere with vague claims of what they added.
California laws protect these actions. A "conflict of interest" is not illegal in California, lol.
Apple could fire him, sure, but that doesnt mean he broke any laws.
If an Apple employee is solicited and accepts, then they're finding the opportunity or terms more agreeable than whatever Apple currently provides, why should an employee be denied the opportunity?
I trade my time, skills and knowledge for money. I don't owe my employer anything other than the above. If I receive a better offer, why shouldn't I take it?
A famous example is Foursquare. Google bought Dodgeball, which was the original product. The founders got paid then left Google and ... started the same company again but called it Foursquare!
My assumption is these companies don't sue because they can't afford the negative impact on hiring. If you thought Apple would own your mind forever you'd never work there in the first place.
Companies don't have the infrastructure in place to track former employees and see what they are doing just for the purpose of filling law suits. So unless they create a Unicorn and become famous, they are pretty safe no matter what.
I once heard a VC Pitch from a bunch of patent trolls who wanted to create a company that you could subscribe to called "IP Insurance", that would then track your former employees and sue them when they violated their contracts automatically. With the added bonus that they would somehow buy the litigation contract from the original company so negative PR would be all on the Insurance company.
Couldn't Apple could get into your cloud and see all your data if you use their products?
Only a very small fraction of Apple's employees will ever attempt to be entrepreneurs. It's no threat to the extreme majority of all employees in Silicon Valley. Outsized total compensation and great benefits is all most tech workers in SV are after, entirely reasonably so.
I agree that it will scare off many employees that are heavily inclined toward starting their own thing. It's an interesting question as to whether companies like Apple are better off or worse off in that scenario. People that are particularly entrepreneur-minded often don't make for great employees (I'm in that group).
I don't think I'll ever root for companies enforcing non-compete or non-solicitation agreements. But, if Apple can prove that this guy was working/soliciting for his new company on Apple's time or while using Apple equipment then they may have a case, but it should be a limited case.
No boss, I can't meet that deadline, I'm too smart.
>Apple is additionally charging Williams with luring away other Apple engineers, also allegedly in breach of his contract.
"The best people are the ones that understand content. They are a pain in the butt to manage but you put up with it because they are so good at content."
Only insider would know, but watching it from the outside it seems there are quite a bit of power grab across Apple.
Apple specifically was one of the parties to the anti-poaching arrangements.
In 2019, CA courts ruled that this also applied even while the soliciting employee is still employed at their old job.
Of course, a competitor can and will sue if they feel like it financially benefits them to do so, such as by interfering in your company's business procedures or discouraging other employees from leaving. This doesn't mean that what they're doing is lawful or that they won't face legal penalties for their actions.
What VC wants to spend their early money on lawsuits, even if you’ll (eventually) win?
None of this is new; Apple has always been like this (even in the Jobs 1.0 days).
For me (even if they would offer me a job, which they probably would not) the second worst would be the extreme secrecy and the worst would be the absolute prohibition of outside projects, even open source unless it were explicitly my job.
Wait, what? If you work at Apple, you are absolutely prohibited from having outside projects, even open source projects that are explicitly not a part of your job?
That's so surprising to me that it feels like it can't possibly be true. The best hackers all have some kind of open source projects, and Apple feels very supportive of open source work. How could they attract the best talent unless they were fine with people building open source projects?
Apple is quite supportive of Open Source in an official capacity. I would actually say that the best talent almost certainly does not work on Open Source projects in their spare time (though quite a few talented people do get paid to work on Open Source projects). The "best talent" tends to have other hobbies outside of coding -- well-rounded individuals make better team members, especially when working with non-technical team members. A lot of young engineers don't appreciate this until they're older.
I remember reading in the Walter Isaacson's biography. Jobs would purposefully underpay or deny bonuses to top employees, especially top contributors to the products.
This kind of a behaviour comes puts up a giant red flag. Do only as much as what it takes to not get fired.
https://www.revealnews.org/article/behind-the-smiles/ (joint article with The Atlantic)
I'm not stating that Apple is good (just look at Foxconn suicide rates as proof that it's an evil company), but it's generally speaking the lesser of three evils here.
What are you counting, and how are you counting it?
Why do you think the rate of death at Foxconn is any different to any other large manufacturing company?
Suicide is a leading cause of death in every single country in the world (albeit it doesn't always appear to be so because of the way it's counted) and so when you have a very large employer you're going to see many deaths in their workforce.
Every death by suicide is a tragedy for that person and their loved ones, but I'm not seeing anything that says Foxconn have unusually large rates of deaths.
You're welcome to participate on Hacker News if you want to submit stories and post comments about topics that gratify your intellectual curiosity. That is, you'd be welcome to participate as a true community member. But single-purpose accounts aren't allowed here, and certainly not single-purpose accounts for corporate agendas.
It’s unhelpful to fall into the trap of thinking the Valley is any better than any other place.
Still I think this is a bad look for Apple.
Provided they didn't take insider knowledge and intellectual property with them, of course.
It is a way of providing engineering bonuses without messing up the internal politics.
I have a neighbor who did this twice. Apparently that's not that common: I mentioned that in a random conversation once and the person I was talking to said "Oh, you live near XXX?"
And that is exactly what Apple's legal filing claims...
Say you assembled a great team of specialists. It cost you a lot of effort, time and money to hire all these really great people. Then someone comes along with a wad of cash and convinces a bunch of those people to all quit and work on a secret project. After they come out of stealth mode, it becomes clear they worked on the same thing as they did at Apple, only now Apple has to pay $250 million dollar to get the results of the work of the team that they had put a lot of effort into recruiting in the first place...
This is the market pricing the work. If someone else came along with a wad of cash and hired them, you weren’t paying them enough.
That tied to some claims that he's utilizing some Apple IP. Looks like he may have been doing a lot of the work on his startup based on his work at Apple - and potentially sandbagging his work there and stashing the goods under his new umbrella - (my interpretation apparently he said he was developing technology that Apple needs)
There's enough here that seems outside of the protections that CA affords.
If the contract they signed with Herman Miller expressly forbade them from doing this, yes, I can totally imagine that. The problem isn't the side project, per se -- it's starting a side project that is in direct or indirect competition with your employer. If you work in the Alexa group at Amazon, for instance, they're probably not going to care about a "side project" of selling sparkly pony dolls on Etsy, but if your "side project" is developing a new voice assistant, you're going to have a problem.
Now, now enforceable it is often depends, but the Oculus case is just one major example of how a company can assert ownership of IP created outside of work hours.
Right, I was addressing the OP who said that full time employment means that your employer owns the intellectual property you create on your own time, which isn't the case by default.
Every company started by someone uses experience they've generated at a previous job. These contracts effectively make anyone starting a company a breach of contract. And just because it's in a contract, doesn't mean it can't be thrown out by a judge if the terms are too unreasonable. These terms are too unreasonable.
Also the concept of "intellectual property" is so misunderstood and abused by the legal system. Originally it was meant to prevent people from writing books that tail on the success of another person's work, like trying to get paid for harry potter fan fiction. It doesnt mean that after being a fiction writer for one publisher the publisher subsequently owns all fictional writing you do for the rest of your life. Prince should've had to change his name to Artist just so he could write music again. Maybe Nuvia's CEO needs to needs to change his name too just so he can continue making microchips.
No-one (at least I don't think anyone) is suggesting that knowledge, experience and skills belong to your employer.
But if I'm a video game developer, and I invent a new shading technique for video game graphics while I'm employed at BigGameCo (whether at home or at work), and I have signed a contract that assigns ownership of my inventions to BigGameCo, then that contract is generally enforceable (again, according to my non-lawyer understanding) and that invention belongs to BigGameCo.
I'm not trying to say the line is always going to be clear but skills/experience/knowledge is fine; work-product is not. Bring your sales know-how; not your Rolodex. Bring your software architecture chops; not design documentation; etc.
That's the whole argument. There's literally no other argument. There is no separation between "previous body of work" and "experience, skills, or knowledge." I think you missed the, "Prince had to change his name to Artist formerly known as prince just so he could continue making music," analogy. That's exactly what's going on here.
>But if I'm a video game developer, and I invent a new shading technique for video game graphics while I'm employed at BigGameCo (whether at home or at work)...
If you're a pioneer in shaders, it's because you've spent years of time and effort trying to understand the problems associated with this one specialized field. You are going to continue being a pioneer in shaders long after you leave your current employer, because that's where you are the most competitive, because that's where all of your knowledge, experience and skills are. To change fields now would be career suicide. You would no longer be a specialist. Your years of knowledge and experience in shaders would lose all value if you decided to dig ditches/whatever alt line of work you go into, and that's what these contracts are forcing you to do: brave a job market where you have no advantage for your time spent at your previous company.
Under these types of contracts, you're not allowed to move forward with your career trajectory after leaving a company. You would be building off your previous work that you did with them, and you're approaching problems with the same solutions you already came up with. That means your old employer owns the rights to all of your subsequent work. Same thing happens to musicians. Since every song they write is an iteration of their previous body of work, if musicians try to leave their record label and can be sued for the rights to every subsequent song they write. Prince had this happen and changed his name to "Artist formerly known as prince." to skirt around the contract. Ridiculous solution to a ridiculous problem. At the time I just thought Prince was being crazy. Apparently not.
I'm also not talking about what types of contracts have been enforced in the past, obviously these companies keep trying to use these contracts because there is precedent, but there's precedent for fucking everything in this country and I could write a historiography of court-ordered fuckery if need be. What im trying to say is that these types of contracts have been thrown out in the past for being unreasonable, and should all be thrown out in the future. This was not the intended spirit of any law allowing people to own "intellectual property."
That said, nobody I know over 30 who works in tech does their "side projects" in tech anymore. We've all moved on to kids or hobbies that allow us to escape the tech world like music or painting.
I’m lucky my employer has a really fair moonlighting policy (basically, I can’t use company equipment for my outside projects and I can’t get paid to talk about stuff I explicitly learned at work), but many large tech companies assign ownership to any code you write, whether it’s a side project or not.
So that's not a "just". That's something he deserves to be sued and heavily penalized for.
Am I reading that right?
Sued for making job offers to your ex colleagues ? Even in the US that wouldn't fly.
You are not owned by your employers. Anything else is like a turkey voting for christmas
So yes. You can be sued for that. Obviously. Which is why he's getting sued.
Whether or not the litigant prevails depends on specific language of agreements, their enforcability, and the specific circumstances around the departures.
Did the engineer decide to quit on their own or were they persuaded by someone who otherwise agreed not to poach?
The issue discussed here is an employee agreement that prohibits former employees from poaching current employees.
I don't see how it doesn't fit this case.
I worked at an SaaS offering for market research surveys that was threatened with a lawsuit because we hired a software engineer who used to work phones in a call center that specialized in polling people. He signed the non-compete contract, obviously, but the point was to discourage him and other people from quitting, or their potential employers from hiring them.
The idea is to make illegal lawsuits against people who broke no laws, so as to set an example for other people who are thinking about quiting.
The lawsuit alleges that he started a new company (while employed with Apple) with technology that he was working on (iPhone and iPad processors), and luring away other Apple engineers.
Nuvia, the company of which he's the CEO, has attracted $53 million in venture funding.
> Any provision in an employment agreement which provides that an employee shall assign, or offer to assign, any of his or her rights in an invention to his or her employer shall not apply to an invention that the employee developed entirely on his or her own time without using the employer’s equipment, supplies, facilities, or trade secret information except for those inventions that either:
> (1) Relate at the time of conception or reduction to practice of the invention to the employer’s business, or actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development of the employer; or
> (2) Result from any work performed by the employee for the employer.
> (b) To the extent a provision in an employment agreement purports to require an employee to assign an invention otherwise excluded from being required to be assigned under subdivision
> (a), the provision is against the public policy of this state and is unenforceable.
Any such agreement must also state that it does not apply to an invention that qualifies under Section 2870.
(William's lawyers claim the IPA is void: https://regmedia.co.uk/2019/12/09/applevwilliamscounter.pdf)
Note the claim here seems to be that he utilized Apple time and resources to work on his new project.
Only if it is unrelated to your company’s current and potential future business. Big tech companies like Apple can argue that almost anything related to electronics or software could be a future business for them.
I’m not rich enough to risk finding out. If a big tech company decided to sue me, I’d be bankrupt from legal fees in a few months, whether I was right or wrong.
EDIT 1: thanks antoncohen for posting the actual law’s wording: “actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development of the employer”
> they will assert ownership of anything you do while employed, on or off the clock, using your own equipment or theirs
How can this be legal (or enforcable)? I can see that the work done on the clock, with company equipment, is what they paid for and own. What you do on your own time and equipment though, they haven't paid (and doubt would be willing to pay) to own all of your time and work.
But I've heard it's common - fortunately I've never been in that situation, and would not consider signing such an unfair contract.
I don't know if it's been tested in court or not.
Unless Apple can prove this person stole something (cf. Waymo), fuck them. I hope every engineer they have that is working on their own side hustle leaves and that anyone considering the company for employment looks elsewhere.
(edit: might just turn out to be a rhetoric)
Do VCs do any due diligence anymore? Or do they simply not care, deal with it later?
"Silicon Valley" is going to be the next generation's "Wall Street".