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Amazon sues former employee who took Google cloud job

Alleges breach of non-compete clause in contract

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Amazon is taking a former employee responsible for managing its cloud partners to court over an alleged breach of contract after he joined Google.

The e-tailer claims former AWS strategic partnerships manager Zoltan Szabadi joined Google too soon after leaving.

The company alleges that by doing so, Szabadi broke the non-compete terms of his contract with Amazon, given that the ad giant's Google Cloud Platform division offers competing services.

According to Amazon, its confidential information, customers and competitive business position are threatened by Szabadi’s employment with Google.

Amazon claims Google intends to solicit business from its AWS customers and partners.

Szabadi joined Amazon in 2008 but left in April this year and started working at Google in May, working in the search giant’s partner reseller group Google Cloud Platform.

Amazon claimed in a court filing, here and found by Geekwire, that Szabadi’s legal counsel had said his employment would not violate the non-compete as “he and Google had agreed on certain limitations on his use of information and on his contracts with Amazon partners".

According to the complaint, Szabadi and Google agreed he should not participate in sales, marketing or business development with Amazon customers or partners for the first six months of his employment.

He also agreed not to try to poach AWS staff for that six-month period, too.

Amazon has asked the court to enforce the original terms of the non-compete agreement.

The case has been filed in Amazon’s home state of Washington rather than Google’s backyard of California, where courts have not upheld non-compete clauses between employers.

It’s the second time Amazon has tried to enforce non-competes against staff joining Google.

In 2012 it took former AWS global sales vice president Daniel Powers to court (PDF) after he became director of Google’s cloud platform.

However, the court rejected (PDF) Amazon’s call for enforcement of the non-compete for a period of 18 months, saying it was too broad. According to the judge, it went beyond what was "necessary to protect its legitimate business interest".

The result was the court restricted Powers to nine months of non-compete restrictions rather than the 18 months the Amazon suit had specified. ®

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