Papers Show Google Foresaw Fight Over Microsoft Executive
Newly released court documents reveal that Google Inc. anticipated a fight when it hired away a top Microsoft Corp. executive to launch a new research and development center in China.
The Internet search company agreed to pay Kai-Fu Lee’s full salary and let his stock options vest even if an agreement he signed at Microsoft prevented him from being able to work for up to a year.
Microsoft sued Lee and Google on July 19, claiming that by taking the Google job, Lee was violating a non-compete agreement he signed in 2000 that barred him for a year from working for a direct competitor in an area that overlapped with his duties at Microsoft.
Lee, 43, helped establish Microsoft’s research center in Beijing and later worked in the MSN search unit. When he left the firm he was a vice president working on technologies that make it easier for people to interact with computers.
On Tuesday, a judge ordered Microsoft to release a set of documents but allowed the firm to redact much of the content because it contained trade secrets.
The papers included a Google document stating that it would continue employing Lee for up to a year and defend him in court if Microsoft wrongfully accused him of breaching the non-compete agreement.
The document also states that Lee promised not to disclose any Microsoft secrets and that Google had not asked him to.