In a victory for Microsoft Corp., a U.S. District Court judge in
California upheld a tentative ruling issued two weeks ago to stay the
Kai-Fu Lee case filed by Google Inc., giving a go-ahead for Microsoft’s
case in Washington state to resolve before Google’s case resumes.
In a ruling issued late Thursday in a U.S. District Court in San Jose,
California, Judge Ronald Whyte ordered that the California case be put
on hold until the Washington case concludes, a decision some believe
gives Microsoft an edge in the case. However, if Google loses the case
in Washington state, the Mountain View, California, company still has a
chance to win its case in its home state.
Microsoft filed a lawsuit July 19 in a Washington state Superior Court
over Google’s hiring of Lee to spearhead new research and development
efforts in China, claiming the hiring violated a noncompetition clause
Lee signed with Microsoft.
Google filed its California countersuit asking the court there to let
California law apply and nullify the noncompete agreement. California
laws are more lenient than Washington state laws in terms of how
binding noncompete agreements are.
Microsoft’s case against Google and Lee is expected to resume in a Seattle courtroom on Jan. 9, 2006.
By Elizabeth Montalbano – IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau)