By Ina Fried
Apple is suing a former employee who started Nuvia, a server chip startup that has hired at least 8 former Apple workers. The company filed a suit against Nuvia founder Gerard Williams III in Santa Clara Superior Court back in August, alleging breach of contract and breach of duty of loyalty.
The suit is already bringing forth unusual disclosures from inside the secretive tech giant, including allegations Apple illegally searched its former employees' private text messages.
Apple is saying that Williams breached his contract with Apple by planning Nuvia and recruiting former Apple workers for it while still working for Apple. It also alleges that some of Nuvia's technology results from Williams' work at Apple and therefore belongs to the company under the intellectual property agreement signed by all employees.
Nuvia says many of the provisions in Apple's contract violate state law, which generally favors employee mobility. It also says Apple's gathering of text messages was illegal.
As Berkeley professor AnnaLee Saxenian has argued, this kind of mobility of brains and skills is what made Silicon Valley. Whether Apple wins or loses its case, it's pushing against its own industry's DNA.
AnnaLee (Anno) Saxenian is a professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarship focuses on regional economies and the conditions under which people, ideas, and geographies combine and connect into hubs of economic activity.