Judge Orders Apple Exec to Stop Work

SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. District Court judge in New York ordered a newly hired Apple executive to stop work immediately because he might be violating an agreement with his former employer, IBM (IBM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Federal District Judge Kenneth Karas in White Plains ordered that Mark Papermaster “immediately cease his employment with Apple Inc until further order of this court.”

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced on Tuesday that Papermaster would lead the engineering teams making Apple’s highly successful iPods and iPhones and that he would report directly to Chief Executive Steve Jobs. On Friday it said he would cease work for now.

“We will comply with the court’s order but are confident that Mark Papermaster will be able to ultimately join Apple when the dust settles,” a spokesman said.

Karas said Papermaster could submit any objections to his order by Tuesday and he set another hearing for November 18.

Papermaster had worked for IBM for 25 years. IBM said in a court filing that, before Papermaster left, he agreed to avoid working for any competitor for a year.

Papermaster’s lawyers argued that forcing him “to ‘sit out’ of the electronics industry for a year would be incredibly damaging to his career.”

They said that Apple was a “once-in-a-lifetime ‘dream job'” and that Papermaster would be unable to return to IBM, given the litigation.

Papermaster also argued that there were significant differences between the two companies because IBM makes big machines for big business and Apple makes little devices for consumers.

IBM disagreed.

“Electronic devices large and small are powered by the same type of intelligence, the microprocessor,” IBM argued.

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