Is it okay for employees to leave to start a competitive company? Apple has the upper hand in litigation.

A former senior chip engineer at Apple may struggle to shake off a breach of contract lawsuit filed against him by Apple, who set up his own processor company after resigning,media reported. Gerard Williams III founded Nuvia Inc last year. Previously, he worked as a platform architect at Apple for a decade, helping to lead the development of iPhone chips.

Williams argues that one of the provisions in his contract with Apple conflicts with California’s law, which allows workers to develop new businesses while working elsewhere. But in a tentative ruling, the court denied his request, and Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce said the law does not allow an employee to plan and prepare to create a competitive business before the contract is completed because doing so would mean the employee took advantage of his employer’s time and resources.

Is it okay for employees to leave to start a competitive company? Apple has the upper hand in litigation.

The judge also rejected Williams’ claim that Apple’s review of text messages he had written to colleagues criticizing the company violated his privacy. Williams tried to exclude the text messages from the evidence. But Pierce disagrees. “There are no allegations in the complaint that the text messages were obtained through wiretapping or recording confidential communications,” he wrote. “

Pearce sided with Williams and rejected Apple’s request for punitive damages, saying the company could not prove that the engineer intentionally hurt his former employer through disloyalty.

Although the ruling does not resolve Apple’s claims, it would allow Apple to share pretrial information if a judge makes a final ruling.

Mr. Williams’s lawyer, Claude Stern, is scheduled to challenge the judge’s findings at a hearing in San Jose on Tuesday. Stern said Williams could not be sued just for the idea of a new business while at Apple, and they couldnot accept the idea that the invention he had worked on belonged to his former employer.

The lawyer also noted that the judge concluded that Apple’s intellectual property agreement with Williams “may” violate California law because Apple also prohibited Williams from hiring his employees after he left office.

“Gerard categorically denies any of the allegations in the complaint,” Stern said in a telephone interview. “

Williams left Apple in February and launched Nuvia the same month along with other former Apple developers. In November, Nuvia went into the public eye and announced $53 million in financing.