Law School Case Brief
IBM v. Papermaster, No. 08-CV-9078 (KMK) - 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95516 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 21, 2008)
Irreparable harm is "'the single most important prerequisite for the issuance of a preliminary injunction.'" To demonstrate irreparable injury, the movant must show “an injury that is neither remote nor speculative, but actual and imminent and cannot be remedied by an award of monetary damages.”
Defendant Mark. D. Papermaster worked at IBM for 26 years. He has spent most of his career at IBM in various product design and development roles within the "Systems and Technology Group." Subsequently, Papermaster was selected to be a member of the Integration & Values Team (I&VT) at IBM, an elite group that was developing IBM’s corporate strategy. As a prerequisite to his membership in the I&VT, Papermaster executed a Noncompetition Agreement, which prohibited Papermaster to directly or indirectly engage in any significant competitor or major competitor of IBM for one year following the termination of his employment. Papermaster also agreed to a nonsolicitation covenant. After some time, Papermaster informed his superiors at IBM that he intended to accept a position at Apple. IBM informed Papermaster that acceptance of Apple's offer would violate the Noncompetition Agreement he had signed. Subsequently, without IBM's knowledge, Papermaster signed an Employment Agreement with Apple. Consequently, IBM filed a motion to enjoin Papermaster from working for, and from disclosing IBM's confidential information to, Apple.
Should IBM’s motion to enjoin Papermaster from working for, and from disclosing IBM's confidential information to, Apple be granted?
According to the Court, a “preliminary injunction is 'an extraordinary and drastic remedy,” and that in order to obtain the same, a party must demonstrate: (i) that it will be irreparably harmed if an injunction was not granted; and (ii) either a likelihood of success on the merits or sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make them a fair ground for litigation, and a balance of the hardships tipping decidedly in its favor. The Court noted that irreparable harm was the most important prerequisite for the issuance of a preliminary injunction. In the case at bar, the Court found that plaintiff has met its burden of showing a likelihood of irreparable harm, especially considering that Papermaster has been inculcated with some of IBM’s most sensitive and closely- guarded technical and strategic secrets. As a result, the Court granted IBM's motion for a preliminarily injunction.
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