Apple drops charges against former executive who accused company of espionage | Engadget

After more than three years of litigation, Apple has quietly dropped its lawsuit against Gerard Williams III, the former chip executive accused of employee poaching. Williams works for Apple, leading the development of some of its most important chips, including the , the first 64-bit processor for mobile devices.

In 2019, Williams left Apple to co-found Nuvia, a chip design company. When the tech giant first sued Williams, it accused him of “secretly” launching Nuvia and recruiting talent for his startup while still an Apple employee. Williams disputed Apple’s claims and accused the company of .

As , Apple filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against Williams earlier this week. The document does not state why the company dropped the case. However, Apple is said to have done so “with prejudice,” meaning it can no longer file the same lawsuit against Williams. It also suggests that the two sides have reached a settlement. Apple did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment.

In the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s dismissal request, court documents show that Apple sought the disqualification of Judge Sunil Kulkarni. Around March 17, 2023, the company added two attorneys from the law firm to the team arguing its case against Williams. On March 28, Judge Sunil Kulkarni filed a brief revealing that he had worked at Morrison and Foerster for approximately 13 years and had remained in contact “over the years” with and, the two “MoFo” lawyers who ‘Apple had hired as attorneys earlier in the month.

“I have occasional social interactions with them (e.g. fortnightly lunches, seeing them at parties of mutual friends, etc.),” ​​Judge Kulkarni wrote. “I believe I have recused myself from past matters involving Mr. Wilson and/or Mr. Kuwayti, but only as a prophylactic.” After learning of his former colleagues’ involvement, Judge Kulkarni held an “informal” meeting with the two sides where he said he was “leaning toward recusal” if Apple withheld Wilson’s or Kuwayti’s advice. At that same meeting, Kulkarni says he told Apple and Williams that his recusal from the case would likely mean a delay in the trial. Prior to the meeting, the case was scheduled to go to trial on October 2, 2023.

In a brief filed April 6, Williams and his legal team strongly opposed the idea of ​​Judge Kulkarni stepping away from the case, arguing that Apple’s position on the matter “shouldn’t matter. ” and that this decision could be “prejudicial”. ” against the former exec.

“Given that this case has been pending for more than three years – with a discovery deadline and trial date fast approaching – and given the court’s familiarity with the parties, the history of the case and the applicable law, the Court’s recusal decision has the potential to be prejudicial and disruptive,” the brief states. He then argues that it was Apple that brought a potential conflict of interest into the case.

“Even if there was a conflict that could warrant of recusal, the procedure imposed by the Court – allowing the party who brought the “conflict” and who would theoretically benefit from it – to decide whether to waive it is incompatible with the fundamental rules of fairness and due process”, concludes the memory. “Such a procedure would set a dangerous precedent for the shopping around of judges in the middle of a case: any party, at any time, could recruit former colleagues of a sitting judge and then force his recusal.”

Putting together what happened after this point is more difficult. However, after the 6th, the Santa Clara court held several hearings where no one from either side appeared. Apple then filed a request for dismissal on April 26. Qualcomm, Williams’ current employer, did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment.

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