Former Microsoft executive Kai-Fu Lee has been banned temporarily by a judge from doing his new job at Google.
Washington superior court judge Steven Gonzalez granted Microsoft’s request for a temporary restraining order to prevent any leak of trade secrets.
Lee is now barred from working on search technologies or other areas that would be “competitive” with his former role at Microsoft, in a ruling that is expected to stand until a 6 September legal hearing.
Judge Gonzalez also banned Lee from disclosing trade secrets or proprietary information gained at Microsoft and banned Google from "attempting to induce" Microsoft staff to work for the company.
Microsoft sued both Lee and Google, claiming he had breached its employee confidentiality agreement, after Lee joined Google to head a new research and development centre in China.
He had worked formerly for Microsoft, most recently as a vice president of its server and tools division and had previously overseen the setting up of the company’s Beijing research centre in the late 1990s.
But Google has denied that Lee had disclosed Microsoft secrets and said he had filed a counter lawsuit against his former employer. Lee and Google argue that he is not an expert in search technology and had only limited involvement in Microsoft's Chinese operations.
A full court case is scheduled for January 2006.