The Hiring of Dr Lee: Google Strikes Back

The Microsoft vs. Google “Search War” continues to escalate. Another lawsuit was filed yesterday, this time by Google.

Here’s a review:

  • Episode 1: On Tuesday we learned that Google has hired Dr. Kai Fu-Lee away from Microsoft to lead Google China
  • Episode 2: Several hours later, news that Microsoft was suing Dr. Lee in King County, WA Superior Court. The lawsuit claims that Dr. Lee was breaching the Microsoft employee confidentiality and non-compete agreements by joining Google before the agreements had expired.
  • Episode 3: Late yesterday, word that Google is was countersuing Microsoft in a California court.

Via the AP:

Google retaliated with its own complaint in California seeking to override Microsoft’s noncompete provision so it can retain Lee. In its suit, Mountain View-based Google contends the clause violates California laws giving workers the right to change jobs. Microsoft’s restriction is “clearly an illegal restraint of trade,” Nicole Wong, Google’s associate general counsel, said in an interview Thursday night. “Google is trying to create an environment for innovators. Microsoft is focused on litigation and intimidation.”

The AP’s Michael Liedtke continues:

In its complaint, Google argues California laws should apply because its headquarters ? and most of its nearly 4,200 workers ? are in the state. What’s more, Google said Lee already is registered to vote in California, pays taxes in the state and plans to buy a Silicon Valley home. But Google’s initial announcement of Lee’s hiring made it sound as if the engineer will be based in China, overseeing the company’s new research office there. “I look forward to returning to China to begin this exciting endeavor,” Lee said in a Tuesday statement. Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake McCredy described Google’s complaint as a desperate act. “Microsoft is confident in our case and that Google’s legal maneuvers will ultimately be rejected by the court,” she said.

On a Related Note
If you’re in need of a smile, take a look at the great “Search Wars” logo that Philipp Lenssen has posted over at Google Blogoscoped.

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