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The suit was filed in a Washington state court against Google and Kai-Fu Lee, who until Monday was the corporate vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Services Division.
Google said earlier Tuesday that Lee was joining the company and would head up a new research effort in China.
joined:Dec 29, 2003
"Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez granted a temporary restraining order barring Kai-Fu Lee from working at Google on any product, service or project similar to those he worked on at Microsoft, including Internet and desktop search technology."
I kinda agree with the judge. This guy was paid a cool $Million last year and was privy to whatever MSFT had in that field. It's not fair that the next day he goes and works for their biggest competitor, especially when he signed the NC and NDA.
And the headline is wrong, he is not barred from working for Google, he is just barred from doing certain tasks, which MS will provide a recommended list to the court on Monday.
It is also interesting that the China work that he did was during a previous stint at MS that was before he signed the NCA.
joined:Dec 29, 2003
actually the headline it's right; he is barred from doing what Google hired him to do. Technically, he can be a janitor and still have a "Google job" but it's not the job he was hired to do.
I think we know what MSFT will submit on the list. The fact that the judge issued a TRO means that he thinks that MSFT has a good case, and is likely to win. I know it's not a done deal, but it's safe to say that as of right now MSFT is in a much better position.
The fact that the judge issued a TRO means that he thinks that MSFT has a good case, and is likely to win
Actually it means no such thing. They balance the potential harm to both parties as long as the plaintiff has at least a reasonable chance of success. What you are describing is a Preliminary Injunction.
Given the million dollar bond that MS had to post, there is little to lose for Google and Lee, compared to what MS has to lose. Without the TRO, MS pretty much automatically loses. With the TRO, Google and Lee are only set back a little over a month, and would get reimbursed by the bond if they win.
Even if MS gets the PI, it doesn't mean that they are "likely to win". It just means that they have a good chance of winning on their merits balanced with the chance of irreparable harm.
Courts are fond of maintaining the status quo while a case is in dispute. If the injunctions are granted and MS loses, things can be made right by making MS pay money. If the injunctions are not granted, and MS wins, money will not "fix" the problem.
And don't forget the California case as well.
It should be entertaining.
Who cares how much he got paid to work at microsoft. This is a free country. Engineers and programmers are the most highly leveraged employess in the world. Looks like he deserves more to me.
Ultimately, MS filed suit for one of 3 reasons: They know they can win based on the contracts he has signed with them or; they're just wanting to waste some Google finance or; they just want to let people know that they'll make it very complicated and stressful for people to go walking out the door to other companies. Probably a combination of all 3. That's the end of the matter until a judgement comes.
The guy can work wherever he wants.
If Google were unaware that he broke a prior a prior legal agreement then they too might have a legal case against him (compensation of damages)!?
When you sign a legally valid document, you are legally bound by it.
That is a true statement, but as a matter of law the Judge gets to decide if the contract is legal.
Not a jury, not MSFT, not GOOG, and not the engineer.
In a number of jurisdictions such contracts are not valid, in those jursidictions, it doesn't matter if the engineer signed in triplicate.
The guy can work wherever he wants. If he
signs a non-disclosure agreement then that is
all he needs to do. Corporations do not own your
mind. Until he does something otherwise he is a free man.
If you agree with a company not to work for a competitor, and if there is no law in the state of juristiction against the agreement or any other legal problem with the agreeement, he might not be able to work whereever he wants.
If someone has the brains to be an engineer he should be able to read contracts and decide whether or not to sign them. The engineer agreed, and may have to live with the agreement.
That said, the legallities of non-compete agreements are complex, and the laws are different in each state. So we will have to wait and see what happens in this particular case.
But the basic lesson is: don't make an agreement that you are not prepared to live with.