IBM is trying to prevent a top exec from moving across to Apple, and is going as far as to threaten legal action.

Mark Papermaster, who was vice president of IBM's Blade Development unit up until recently, had worked 26 years at the company.

However, Apple offered him a new position.

But IBM is claiming that Papermaster signed a noncompete agreement with his former employer that would prevent him from accepting a job with a competitor until 1 year after leaving.

A lawsuit has been filed at the United States District Court in Manhattan, in which IBM claims that Papermaster was one of its top 300 managers and, as such, could access much of the company's intellectual property and trade secrets.

"In his capacity as a member of the I&VT, Mr. Papermaster has gained access to confidential information concerning the company's strategic plans, marketing plans and long term business opportunities, including the development of specific IBM products", the company said.