Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against Google and one of its former senior executives after its ex-employee joined the search giant.
Microsoft is alleging a breach of the confidentiality and non-compete clauses in the employment contract signed by Kai-Fu Lee .
Lee, a former corporate vice-president of Microsoft’s natural interactive services division, accepted a position with Google to lead its China R&D centre.
Microsoft said, “We are asking the court to require Dr Lee and Google to honour the confidentiality and non-competition agreements he signed when he began working for Microsoft.
“As a senior executive Dr Lee had direct knowledge of Microsoft’s trade secrets concerning search technologies and China business strategies. He has accepted a position focused on the same set of technologies and strategies for a direct competitor in egregious violation of his explicit contractual obligations.”
Microsoft said it was seeking to protect its “intellectual property”. The court will have to decide whether this includes the company’s business strategies.
Google said, "We have reviewed Microsoft's claims and they are completely without merit.
“Google is focused on building the best place in the world for great innovators to work. We're thrilled to have Dr Lee on board at Google. We will defend the company vigorously against these meritless claims and will fully support Dr Lee."
Following the recent launch of its dedicated MSN Search service, Microsoft is competing more fiercely with Google in the search engine market – and for the advertising revenue that comes with it.