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Sat, Dec 24, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Microsoft and Google end legal fight over employee


Microsoft Corp said late on Thursday it had reached a settlement with rival Google Inc and former employee Lee Kai-fu (李開復), ending a legal battle that had exposed behind-the-scenes rancor between the companies.

In a statement, Microsoft said the three parties had entered into a "private agreement that resolves all issues to their mutual satisfaction."

Google confirmed the settlement and released a statement from Lee saying he was "pleased with the terms of the settlement agreement."

Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans would not say when the settlement was reached. He also would not provide details of the settlement, calling it confidential. Google also declined to comment further.

Lee had worked at Microsoft since 2000 and helped develop its MSN Internet search technology, including desktop search software rivaling Google's. He left in July to lead Google's expansion into China after Google offered him a US$10 million compensation package.

Microsoft sued Lee and Google in a Washington state court, contending that Lee's job at Google would violate terms of the noncompete agreement that prohibits him from doing similar work for a rival for one year. Microsoft also accused Lee of using insider information to get his job at Google.

Google responded with its own lawsuit against Microsoft in US District Court in San Jose, California.

Because of the settlement's confidential terms, it's unclear what tasks Lee can perform until his noncompete agreement runs out.

A Washington state judge ruled in September that Lee could not work on products, services or projects he worked on at Microsoft, including computer search technology, pending the trial. But the judge said Lee could recruit and staff a Google center in China.

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