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Microsoft rifles ex-employee's (Windows) trashcan

Smoking gun in Google poaching case?

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Once again, a major industry case involving Microsoft is getting dirty as investigators rifle trashcans. Only this time, it's the trashcan in Windows.

A document recovered from the Recycle Bin of ex-Microsoft vice president Kai Fu-Lee's PC has apparently revealed a belief that Microsoft could sue over Google's decision to hire Lee.

According to a report, the discarded document said Google would place Lee on a leave of absence or give him a consulting position for up to a year should Microsoft try to prevent Lee from working at Google because of his noncompete agreement.

Lee, who founded Microsoft's China R&D operation and who is an expert in natural language interfaces, was hired by internet search giant Google last month. Microsoft promptly filed against Google and Lee citing "egregious violation" of the noncompete clause in his Microsoft contract.

The Recycle Bin episode is the latest example of a Microsoft legal case getting down and dirty. At the height of Microsoft's antitrust case involving the US government in 2000, news of "Larrygate" broke. During that episode, it emerged Oracle had hired investigators to look into two pressure groups that Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison said tried to influence public opinion in favor of Microsoft.

The investigators reportedly paid $1,200 to janitors at the Association for Competitive Technology to look through the organization's trash for evidence. While Oracle said it had not given guidelines to the investigators on how to act, Ellison supported the overall probe saying, "We got the truth out". ®

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