Apple is suing someone who helped design its iPhone and iPad chips

Nuvia (Image credit: Crunchbase)

What you need to know

  • Gerard Williams III was part of the team responsible for designing Apple's chips.
  • Now he's started a chip company of his own.
  • And Apple is suing him over it.

Apple's chips are legendary and Gerard Williams III is someone who helped make that happen up until earlier this year. But after starting a new chip company and hiring at least eight former Apple employees, he's being sued by Apple.

Gerard Williams III founded Nuvia and went public with the news last month.. The company picked up $53 million in funding and hired a number of former Apple employees. But Apple isn't happy about that, saying that Williams breached his contract by planning to start Nuvia and then by recruiting members of Apple's team while he was still employed by the company.

Apple says that it is a "worse-case scenario."

This case involves a worst-case scenario for an innovative company like Apple: A trusted senior director with years of experience, and years of access to Apple's most valuable information, secretly starts a competing company leveraging the very technology the director was working on, and the same teams he was working with, while still employed by Apple.

As you might imagine, Nuvia disagrees. And it believes that Apple is trying to prevent Apple emloyees from leaving the company in the future.

Apple, an early beneficiary of the creative forces that formed and continue to drive Silicon Valley, has filed this lawsuit in a desperate effort to shut down lawful employment by a former employee ... To further intimidate any current Apple employee who might dare consider leaving Apple, Apple's complaint shows that it is monitoring and examining its employees' phone records and text messages, in a stunning and disquieting invasion of privacy.

Whether Apple should be able to keep tabs on its employees and ultimately control their movement is a matter for the courts, but as The Axios points out, it's the freedom of movement of employees that made Silicon Valley what it is today.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.