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The battles between Microsoft and Google have been widely discussed, and recently hit the courts again when Microsoft claimed that Google had unlawfully lured Kai-Fu Lee to work for them. The defection, Microsoft claimed, was in violation of a ‘non-compete’ clause which was included in Lee’s contract with Microsoft. Superior court judge Steven Gonzalez agreed, to the extent of granting a temporary restraining order prohibiting Lee from performing similar work to that which he was formerly doing at Microsoft. No similar products, services or projects, including Internet and desktop search tools.


Microsoft now claims that it has found a document in the Recycle Bin of Lee’s computer which indicates that Google and Lee had foreseen potential litigation, and clearly understood that the contract with Microsoft was being violated.

According to news.com:

The document Microsoft said it found in Lee's recycle bin states that should the software maker prevent Lee from working at both Microsoft and Google because of a noncompete clause, Google will place him on a paid leave of absence or give him a consulting job for up to a year.

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Last Post by Danny
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What good capitalism this is that prevents workers from choosing what to work on. These sorts of of contractual clauses should be illegal. Workers clearly don't generally have the clout to refuse these things, but the government certainly does. It is also completly within its rights under the commerce clause.

This is clearly just a preliminary injunction injunction though, which basically means the judge the microsoft has some chance of succeeding in its claim, but nothing more than that. Google could still win in the end.

I would point out that this recycling bin thing doesn't seem very incriminating. Just because google believed it was possible that microsoft might prevail in court and that they should therefore have a contingency plan doesn't mean that they believed microsoft would win, or that they should. This seems like a non-story to me.

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My apologies. Should've included it in the article but the temporary restraining order, apparently, is only in effect until about September.


I don't think there is any intention to try and stop the fellow from performing similar work on a permanent basis, only for a sufficient period of time to ensure that a competitor cannot benefit from the work done on behalf of Microsoft.

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This is absolutely stupid. Google and MS are both based in the USA, a free country! Since when could MS tell that Chinese guy (too lazy too look for his name) who he could work for?

And why didn't he use Shift+Delete?

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Surely, mmiikkee, it was since they got him to sign an agreement stating that if he left their employment he would not work elsewhere on similar software technology for whatever period of time was stipulated.

Honouring the contracts you agree to is also part of being a 'free country', is it not? Unless it can be demonstrated that the contract itself was unlawful, I can't see why the fellow wouldn't be bound by it.

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Non-competes often have problems standing up in court. The theory of the court is that in many circumstances, people have the right to earn a living, and no corporation can stop somebody from seeking a job.

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