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So now IBM is worried about Apple, too?

IBM is clearly worried about Apple, but why?

When you think of Apple's likely competitors, IBM isn't one of the names that would top the list. Even so, IBM is suing to block one of its employees from joining Apple, as CNET reports.

Bizarre. Yes, as CNET's Tom Krazit points out, Mark Papermaster, IBM's former vice president of microprocessor technology development, could help to revive Apple's Xserve server line, or he could work on its chip technology, or...he could do many things. But the point is that none of them is a clear and present danger to any of IBM's businesses.

Indeed, the only business line that Apple has been pillaging lately is no longer even IBM's to lose: the ThinkPad/PC line.

Larry Dignan at ZDNet could be on to something:

IBM's biggest worry is that Papermaster is part of a select group of executives that has access to the company's "substantial investment in research and innovation." Simply put, IBM has a huge research arm that cooks up all kinds of neat gadgets that it will never take to market. That kind of know-how coupled with Apple's design and marketing heft could be dangerous.

Dangerous? Sure. But to whom? If these science experiments never make it to market, then why would IBM be concerned if some of its R&D actually did make it to market, but under Apple's guidance? Sounds like sour grapes to me, especially if you dig through IBM's 2007 annual report. You'd struggle to find anything in there related to a present or future threat from the likes of Apple.

Throw out the lawsuit on summary judgment, Ms. Judge. Let IBM get back to competing with products, not subpoenas.