TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Microsoft, Google Face Off in Court

Microsoft, Google Face Off in Court

Reuters News Wire (
Wed, 7 Sep 2005 10:25:37 -0500

Attorneys for Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. faced off in court on
Tuesday over whether an executive familiar with the world's largest
software maker's plans in China could begin working for the search
engine leader.

Microsoft is asking King County Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez
for a preliminary injunction to stop former vice president Kai-Fu Lee
from working for Google ahead of a trial scheduled for January 2006.

Microsoft attorney Jeffrey Johnson argued in court that Lee, who built
Microsoft's Beijing research and development center, is violating a
non-compete contract that he signed with Microsoft because he has
intimate knowledge of Microsoft's operations in China, its competitive
strategy against Google and recruiting efforts.

"Dr. Lee should live up to his promise," said Johnson.

Microsoft played video depositions of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates,
Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and other executives detailing Lee's
involvement in planning China-related strategies and businesses.

Microsoft and Google are increasingly becoming the technology
industry's most visible competitors, as they face off in the Web
search arena and seek to hire top software engineering talent.

Google said that Lee decided to leave Microsoft and work for Google to
head up their China operations because he was frustrated with
Microsoft's lack of action and commitment in China.

"He tried, but they (Microsoft executives) were completely
uninterested in what he had to say about China," said Steve Langdon, a
Google spokesman.

The hearing, which will last another day, is the latest move by the
Redmond, Washington-based software giant to stop Lee from working at
Google while he is still obligated by the one-year non-compete
agreement, which went into effect when Lee quit Microsoft in mid-July.

Microsoft won a temporary restraining order against Lee and Google in
July. Google, based in Mountain View, California counter-sued in its
home state last month to block Microsoft's lawsuit.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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