Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Here’s a sad tale from Cisco’s top lawyer, Mark Chandler.A few weeks ago, an unnamed HP employee quit his job in Texas and moved to California to start a new job at Cisco.
He asked a California court to overrule the non-compete agreement he had with HP — a safe bet, since California is very protective of a worker’s right to change jobs.
As part of the normal legal process, Cisco notified HP of the court hearing and tried to assure HP that the employee wouldn’t use any confidential information.
So how did HP respond?
By filing an emergency lawsuit in Texas trying to get an immediate injunction preventing the employee from starting work in California.
The Texas judge laughed the case out of court, and the California court gave him the right to start at Cisco. (Arik Hesseldahl of AllThingsD thinks the employee was Paul Perez, the former CTO of HP’s storage business.)
Chandler says this is the third time in two years HP has sued former employees to stop them from working at Cisco.
One of the other lawsuits was so aggressive that the employee gave up, even though he had quit HP months before. Another was filed against somebody in HP’s financial services department and didn’t even try to argue that intellectual property was at stake. (The employee won that suit.)
HP isn’t the only company to sue departing employees — earlier this year, Microsoft sued a general manager to stop him from working for Salesforce, and is rumoured to have used legal threats to stop one of its data centre leaders from moving to Apple.
But HP’s declaration of “emergency” in this case seems particularly low.