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Former Amazon Employee’s Non-Compete Clause Source of Contention for Google and Amazon

Google Headquarters

Summary: Google seeks to intervene in a lawsuit Amazon has filed against former employee, stating its confidential information and trade secrets are risk now that the former employee works for Google.

GeekWire provides the latest developments in the legal fight between Google and Amazon. Zoltan Szabadi is a former Amazon Web Services employee. Szabadi now works for Google in its cloud computing division, which triggered Amazon’s filing of a lawsuit against the former employee in June of this year. The basis of the lawsuit was to enforce the terms of Szabadi’s non-compete agreement he had with Amazon as a term of his employment.

Google got wind of the lawsuit, and is now seeking to formally intervene and has filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle. Google’s position is that, now that Szabadi works for Google and is involved with a lawsuit against Amazon, Amazon may attempt to use the legal discovery process to obtain “highly confidential information pertaining to Google’s cloud computing business.” Amazon states that its own confidential information is at stake now that Szabadi works for Google. Szabadi was a former Amazon Web Services strategic partnerships manager. Szabadi’s current position with Google is with the Google Cloud Platform area.

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Amazon’s non-compete clause would prohibit Szabadi from selling or marketing cloud computing services at Google for 18 months. The problem is that the home states of these two companies have opposite legal precedent when it comes to the enforcement of non-compete agreements. Such terms have been found invalid in California where Google is headquartered. However, they’ve been routinely upheld in Washington state, where Amazon is located.

Google now seeks standing in the lawsuit. The motion states that “substantial confidential and proprietary information of Google has been requested by Amazon in this action, whether through Szabadi or Google directly, and, absent the ability to participate in the action as an intervenor, Google will have little control or oversight with respect to Amazon’s use or disclosure of its confidential information.” Amazon maintains its intent is not to reveal any trade secrets of Google, and that its own confidential information and trade secrets are at risk and with no way to protect its interests now that Szabadi is working for Google.

Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell will make a decision on Google’s request to intervene to determine how the case proceeds from here.

Photo credit: techfreep.com

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