Apple Sues Ex-Chief Over Computer Venture

By Andrew Pollack
Special to the New York Times

San Francisco -- September 23, 1985 -- Apple Computer Inc. today filed suit against its former chairman, Steven P. Jobs, in connection with his attempts to set up a new computer company staffed by five former Apple employees. The suit, which had been threatened by Apple for more than a week, also names Richard A. Page, one of the five Apple employees who resigned from the company to join Mr. Jobs in his new venture.

Mr. Jobs is charged with breach of fiduciary responsibilities, threatened breaches of contract and misappropriation of confidential and proprietary information.

The suit, filed in Santa Clara County, Calif., Superior Court, implies that Mr. Jobs, who resigned last week as chairman of Apple, is planning to build a computer similar to one being worked on for Apple by Mr. Page, an engineer who was also an Apple Fellow, a prestigious research position in the company.

The suit seeks to prohibit Mr. Jobs and Mr. Page from using Apple information and from inducing other Apple employees or former employees to join the new company, if it is for the purpose of gaining access to Apple's proprietary information. Monetary damages in excess of $5 million are also sought.

David M. Balabanian, a San Francisco attorney representing Mr. Jobs, said, ''I don't really see the lawsuit has merit.'' He said he had not yet read the complaint and could not respond in greater detail.

''We were surprised by their action,'' he said today. ''We'd hoped and frankly expected that they would take a more rational view of the matter.'' He said the suit is not likely to stop Mr. Jobs from forming his company because it does not ask for an injunction against the company's formation.

But Albert A. Eisenstat, Apple's general counsel, said the company did not take the action lightly. ''If it could have been avoided, I'd have loved to avoid it,'' he said. ''We considered whether we were going to file right up to the last minute.''

Apple's board held a special meeting Friday to authorize the suit.

The suit said that Mr. Jobs secretly made plans for the new company and recruited selected employees to join him while still chairman of Apple. It also said the new company intended to compete with Apple. The suit also said that Mr. Jobs sold some of his Apple stock to finance his company without disclosing his intention to develop a competing business.

The suit charges that Mr. Page was responsible for designing and developing a new personal computer, which the lawsuit called a ''next generation'' product. The lawsuit contends that Mr. Jobs plans to use Apple efforts undertaken on that product for the benefit of his competing company.

Copyright 1985 The New York Times Company