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Opening Day In Microsoft-Google Fight Over Kai-Fu Fee

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Courtroom showdown for Microsoft and Google from News.com covers the opening arguments in this week's court fight over whether Google China chief Kai-Fu Lee violated a non-compete clause by going over to Microsoft.

Microsoft says Lee's conduct shows he wasn't willing to live up to the restrictions, with allegations of helping Google with recruitment and advice even before departing Microsoft.

Google argues that Lee should be able to work for Google until a formal trial over the issue happens in a few months. This week's case is over lifting a temporary injunction on Lee doing work for Google. Google says Lee would do no work for Google in speech or search technology, the areas said to be the biggest concern to Microsoft.

Videotape depositions from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer were introduced. Ballmer called Lee "the godfather" of Microsoft's China strategy. More use of the f-word by Microsoft execs also comes into the case, as Lee explains Gates told him "First, we were f'ed by the Chinese people, and now the Chinese government has f'ed us." Microsoft denies Gates made such statements, as it previously denied statements by Ballmer on how he was going to "f*king kill Google."

Meanwhile, John Battelle gets more legal documents in the case, highlighting parts of Microsoft's request along with Google exec Jonathan Rosenberg calling Lee an "all star" who will contribute "substantially beyond China" and wanting Google to close around and protect him like "wolves."

He also highlights a Google rebuttal with parts saying this isn't over specific areas covered in the non-compete by Microsoft wanting to delay Google's entry into China.

Postscript from Gary: The Seattle Times provides reports on what went on in the courtroom on Monday. The article also contains the full text of an email that Kai-Fu Lee sent to Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt that began a discussion about a job at Google. Finally, the article mentions a couple of research areas that were discussed in court yesterday. A Microsoft attorney talked about voice-activated search research (speak your search) going on at MS. This type of work is also going on at Google, In fact, Google Labs once offered this type of thing with Google Voice. The demo is no longer available but you can read about it here. Also mentioned by the MS attorney was "Geegle," research going on at Google that uses, "natural-language processing to extract information from the Internet."

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