A US court has temporarily barred more than a dozen engineers hired by Yahoo from working on interactive speech technology at the search engine and web portal company, after their previous company accused Yahoo of trying to steal its trade secrets.
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The court said that speech technology company Nuance Communications, the engineers' former employer, was likely to win its case at a full hearing scheduled for a later date.
Nuance is behind the interactive voice technology used by several large companies in their customer service phone systems, including some airlines.
In court documents, Nuance claims that Yahoo has tried to “gut” its research and development department after hiring 13 of its staff, and has attempted to compete unfairly in the interactive voice market.
Yahoo denies Nuance’s claims.
The case has echoes of the ongoing legal action brought by Microsoft against Google, with Microsoft seeking to stop one of its former leading engineers in voice and search technology from joining Google after claiming he broke “anti-compete” clauses in his contract.