Microsoft offers to settle with Google

Written by Brett Thomas

September 14, 2005 // 1:59 p.m.

Tags: #court-case #lee

Companies: #google #microsoft

In the ongoing drama that is Microsft v. Google, two more incidents have occurred. In case you haven't been paying attention, the Redmond giant is suing Google for 'poaching' a Microsoft employee, Dr. Lee, to their new division in China. Dr. Lee had signed a rather broad non-compete agreement (NCA), and Microsoft attempted to prevent him from beginning work with Google.

The first big move is the ruling on late Tuesday afternoon stating that Mr. Lee could begin limited work at Google, removing a previous injunction. The ruling is not a complete freedom, however. Dr. Lee cannot participate in any products, services, or projects that are related to ones he worked on at MS. The court did uphold that the NCA was valid, but that work unlike what Dr. Lee did at MS could not be covered. Therefore, Dr. Lee's first principal job of recruiting new talent and staffing the new division in China for Google will go largely unhindered.

According to Yahoo! News, Microsoft offered an olive branch, in the form of a settlement, upon hearing the news.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said Tuesday night the company was pleased with the restrictions and would end all litigation if Google and Lee agree to abide by the judge's order until next July, when Lee's noncompete agreement expires. "We can settle this lawsuit tomorrow," Smith said. "We can get back to ... competing in the marketplace."

Lee's lawyer, Brad Keller, stated that he had not seen any formal agreement and thus could not comment. Both he and Google seem to be looking at this possibility warily, though, as a settlement usually comes from someone when the odds of getting better than their offer are slim to none. And Redmond is not exactly known for its generosity in the marketplace.

So, is the battle finally over? Or is this deal Microsoft's last grab at saving any face at all? Let us know your thoughts in our forums.
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