Microsoft has has won a court order temporarily blocking the head of its public sector business from moving to on-demand CRM vendor and rival Salesforce.com.
The software giant’s complaint, filed in a Washington state court, says that Matt Miszewski’s switch to Salesforce.com breaches the confidentiality and non-compete terms signed in his original employment contract. Salesforce.com announced last week that Miszewski would be heading up its public sector operations.
"This case involves an employee with knowledge of Microsoft’s sensitive customer and competitive information going to work for Salesforce.com, a direct competitor, in a job that is focused on the same solutions and customers," commented David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of litigation at Microsoft, in a statement. "This directly violates the confidentiality and non-competition agreements signed upon beginning work with our company."
Microsoft is now seeking a permanent injunction against Miszewski joining Salesforce.com, which specialises in on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) applications.
Miszewski joined Microsoft in April 2007 as managing director of the vendor’s eGovernment business, and subsequently rose to become general manager of this division. He was due to join Salesforce.com this month.
Microsoft and Salesforce.com have had a litigious relationship of late. In May 2010, the former sued Salesforce.com, accusing it of infringing nine software payments related to its Dynamics CRM suite. Salesforce.com counter-sued, claiming Microsoft’s .NET programming framework and SharePoint collaboration tool violated its own patents. The two settled in August 2010.
The rivalry is not contrained to the courtroom. In December 2010, Microsoft told Salesforce.com customers it would pay them $200 per license if they switch to its own hosted CRM product.
In September 2010, Silicon Valley companies Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Apple and Pixar were ordered by the US Department of Justice to end an informal deal which prevented the companies from poaching each others’ employees. The DoJ ruled that this agreement was anti-competitive.