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Google Raises Bar With New Lawyers

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The search engine company has added lawyers from a high-powered firm that has represented Grokster and Frank Quattrone.

It looks like a little panic has set in at the Mountain View home of Google. The legal battle with Microsoft over their hiring of Kai-Fu Lee to direct their China operations, has seen the court temporarily bar Dr. Lee from working for Google.

Already represented by a much larger law firm, according to Silicon.com, Google asked the court for and received permission to add five lawyers from Kekar & Van Nest to their counsel. Microsoft has kept its legal representation in the family with the Preston Gates & Ellis firm, founded by Bill Gates’ father.

At issue is the non-compete clause signed by Dr. Lee when he joined Microsoft. The clause prevents him from working for a competitor in a similar field. With Microsoft chasing Google in the world of search engines and their advertising, Microsoft sees his hiring by Google sufficient to invoke the terms of the clause, which prevents him for working for Google for one year.

During that year, Dr. Lee will still be paid and more importantly his Google “stock units” will vest. Google switched from stock options to a more restricted stock that holds its value over time, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. Options lose their value if a stock’s price drops, and there is some concern that the forthcoming Google stock sale indicates the company thinks its stock may be a bit overvalued on Wall Street right now.

Dr. Lee has claimed his work with Microsoft focused on his expertise with speech technology. As an executive, he had some exposure to general company strategies, but he claims to have not worked on or even looked at search technology at Microsoft.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Google Raises Bar With New Lawyers
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