Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are You Ready for Another Motorola Non-Compete Lawsuit?

From Crain's Chicago Business today comes another story about Motorola feeling jilted by a former employee. This time, Motorla sued David Aderhold, a former wireless network sales executive, after he took a job with Ericsson. By way of background, Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent beat out Motorola a year ago on a bid to become a supplier of fourth-generation network equipment to Verizon. After Motorola lost the bid, Aderhold claims Motorola consented to his new job, first through co-CEO Greg Brown and again through Fred Wright, a senior vice-president.

Motorola may have a difficult time preventing Aderhold from working on the Verizon account, as its loss of the account prior to the time Aderhold left would seem to militate against a finding that the non-compete supports a legitimate business interest. Under Illinois law, that test is rather exacting, and only near-permanent customer relationships and breach of confidentiality can support a restraint. By definition, there is no customer relationship between Motorola and Verizon (through no fault of Aderhold) and use of confidential information also would seem to be a non-issue. What Aderhold would have to gain from disclosing information of a jettisoned supplier like Motorola is an utter mystery. If anything, it seems Aderhold would want to distance himself as much as possible from anything her learned at Motorola.

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