Microsoft Sues Google Over Chinese Hire

    July 20, 2005

Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against Google and Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, claiming that Lee broke his contract with the Windows giant by jumping ship to the search giant.

I reported moments ago on Dr. Lee’s hiring by Google at InsideGoogle to head up their new Chinese research and development center. As you can see in the press release there, Google was positively gushing more over Dr. Lee’s hiring than the actual upcoming opening of the facility, and it appears that Lee is a big deal to Microsoft as well.

Marketwatch reports that the lawsuit is being filed because Lee’s move to Google violates confidentiality and noncompetition agreements he made when he joined Microsoft in 1998.

If Lee is under a standard noncompete, going to Google would surely violate that, and he certainly has knowledge of Microsoft’s intellectual property that Google could benefit from. Don’t be surprised if this one isn’t going away anytime soon.

“As a senior executive, Dr. Lee has direct knowledge of Microsoft’s trade secrets concerning search technologies and China business strategies,” the software giant said in a statement.

Microsoft claimed Lee’s position at its search rival is “focused on the same set of technologies and strategies for a direct competitor in egregious violation of his explicit contractual obligations.”

“Creating intellectual property is the essence of what we do at Microsoft, and we have a responsibility to our employees and our shareholders to protect our intellectual property,” the company added.

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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