A chip engineer who left Apple to start a new company lost ground in court after a judge allowed the tech giant to move forward with a breach-of-contract suit against him.
Gerard Williams III asked Santa Clara County Superior Court Mark Piece to dismiss the suit, saying California law allows people to plan new business ventures while employed elsewhere.
But Pierce denied the request, telling Williams the law doesn’t allow people to “create a competitive enterprise… on their employer’s time and with the employer’s resources.”
Williams worked for Apple for 10 years and was one of the main architects of Apple’s mobile platform. He oversaw the design of chips for iPhones and iPads. Williams left last year to start Nuvia, which develops processors for data centers, according to a Bloomberg report.
Williams later recruited former co-workers at Apple to join him at Nuvia.
Pierce also struck down a claim by Williams that Apple violated his privacy when it reviewed text messages that were critical of their employer.
Williams’s attorney, Claude Stern, is expected to contest the judge’s ruling in a hearing this week in San Jose, according to the Bloomberg report. Stern said the company should not be allowed to sue Williams for a business idea because it didn’t involve taking intellectual property belonging to Apple.
Pierce rejected Apple’s bid for punitive damages, saying there was no evidence Pierce was disloyal or tried to harm the company. Apple can still present details on its claims against Williams during pre-trial hearings.