•Dr. Kai-Fu Lee joined Microsoft in 1998 to run company operations in China •Knowledge of company trade secrets
•Quit Microsoft because he was moving to Google
•When Lee was hired Microsoft made him sign a non-compete agreement •Microsoft sued Google and Lee over the non-compete agreement Issue:
Does Microsoft have the right to have a non-compete agreement with Dr. Kai-Fu Lee? Discussion:
In 2000, Microsoft moved to protect itself by requiring Dr. Kai-Fu Lee to sign a non-compete agreement. Notwithstanding this agreement, Lee quit in July, 2005 by notifying Microsoft that he was moving to Google, which resulted in a recent lawsuit that was filled by Microsoft against Google. Dr. Lee joined Microsoft in 1998 and was in charge of creating and running Microsoft branch operations in China. While at Microsoft Lee worked on Microsoft’s speech recognition system and was responsible for the overall development of the MSN Internet search program. In short, he has personal knowledge of company trade secrets including technology developments as well as business and marketing planning. The agreement that Microsoft required Lee to sign in 2000 was to forgo employment with any direct competitor of Microsoft. Conclusion:
Non-Compete Agreements are controversial documents that restrict a person’s right to work with competitors of a former employer. The usefulness of one such non-compete agreement is on exhibit in a recent lawsuit filed by Microsoft against Google. In August of 2008 Microsoft and Google came to agreement after a Washington Court ruled that Microsoft has no right to require employees to sign non-Compete agreements because California has a Law called the Right to Work.