Next Google-Microsoft employment ruling coming

A Washington state judge will rule next week on Kai-Fu Lee issue

By Tuesday, Kai-Fu Lee should have a clearer idea of what he can and cannot do at his new job with Google over the next few months. That's when a court in Washington state will rule on whether to extend a court order forbidding Lee from working in certain areas, a Microsoft spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Lee, formerly corporate vice president with Microsoft's Natural Interactive Services Division, was hired earlier this year to head Google's Chinese research and development team. Microsoft believes this role has caused Lee to violate a noncompete agreement he had previously signed with the Microsoft.

This matter will go to trial in January 2006, but this week, Judge Steven Gonzalez of the Superior Court of the State of Washington listened to arguments over a Microsoft motion to block Lee from working on a variety of areas that are covered by Lee's noncompete agreement.

"We presented significant evidence detailing the knowledge that Dr. Lee has of our China strategy, and more importantly, we presented significant evidence that he shared that knowledge with Google," says a Microsoft spokeswoman.

Judge Gonzalez had already granted a temporary order forbidding Lee from working in a variety of areas related to search, language technology and business planning, and Microsoft is now seeking to have that order extended until the case comes to trial in January.

With the hearing on this motion now ended, the judge has said he will rule on the matter next Tuesday, according Drake.

Wednesday's hearing featured testimony from Lee himself and Alan Eustace, a vice president of engineering with Google, Drake says.

Google representatives were unavailable for comment on this story.

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