In a victory for Microsoft, a U.S. District Court judge in California upheld a tentative ruling issued two weeks ago to stay the Kai-Fu Lee case filed by Google, giving a go-ahead for Microsoft's case in Washington state to resolve before Google's case resumes.
In a ruling issued late Thursday in a U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, Judge Ronald Whyte ordered that the California case be put on hold until the Washington case concludes, a decision some believe gives Microsoft an edge in the case. However, if Google loses the case in Washington state, the Mountain View, California, company still has a chance to win its case in its home state.
Microsoft filed a lawsuit July 19 in a Washington state Superior Court over Google's hiring of Lee to spearhead new research and development efforts in China, claiming the hiring violated a noncompetition clause Lee signed with Microsoft.
Google filed its California countersuit asking the court there to let California law apply and nullify the noncompete agreement. California laws are more lenient than Washington state laws in terms of how binding noncompete agreements are.
Microsoft's case against Google and Lee is expected to resume in a Seattle courtroom on Jan. 9, 2006.