On Familiar Ground: Yahoo! and Nuance Settle Suit

Claims of former employees leaving to help a competitor by breaking their non-disclosure agreements are the basis of a recently filed lawsuit. Yahoo! is suing MForma, a mobile media company, charging MForma and seven former-Yahoo! employees of stealing trade secrets.

Sound familiar? Well, just last year, Nuance filed suit against Yahoo! for similar reasons.  Yahoo hired 13 of Nuance's developers, which Nuance claimed was a conspiracy to take over their research and development efforts in speech recognition technology.  In court, the judge declined to hand out a temporary restraining order preventing the engineers from working for Yahoo!. The lawsuit was settled on Friday, February 24, 2006.

According to Nuance spokesman Richard Mack, "The Parties have resolved their differences.  No party has admitted any liability and the Parties have agreed not to discuss the matter further."

Attempts to reach Yahoo! for comment were unsuccessful.

Similarly, Microsoft filed suit in July of 2005 against Google and Kai-Fu Lee for violation of confidentiality and non-competition agreements that Lee had signed while working for Microsoft. Google counter-sued Microsoft in U.S. District Court claiming that Microsoft's lawsuit had no foundation.

Microsoft reached a settlement with Google Inc. and former employee Kai-Fu Lee, ending litigation over Google's hiring of Kai-Fu Lee, who led Microsoft's speech technologies initiatives. The settlement's confidential terms make it unclear what tasks Dr. Lee can perform until his non-compete agreement runs out.

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