In a case technology employers are sure to follow closely, Amazon has sued former Amazon Web Services Strategic Partnership Manager Zoltan Szabadi for breaking the non-compete agreement he signed when he first joined the company. Szabadi now works at the rival Google Cloud Platform.
The lawsuit is seen as a test of the employment agreements tech companies usually require to protect themselves when an employee departs. Amazon filed the suit in Seattle, since Washington State has been more inclined to enforce such agreements. In Google’s home state of California, VentureBeat notes, non-competes have generally been found to be unenforceable.
Amazon says Szabadi was “directly and integrally involved” with marketing AWS partners and resellers, played a significant role in developing business strategy and was a first point of contact for many potential partners.
It’s not the first time Amazon’s gone after an AWS executive who’s moved to Google. Last year, the company sued former AWS Vice President Daniel Powers after Google hired him as Director of Global Cloud Platform Sales. Amazon sued Powers for breach of contract, but Google largely prevailed because it shifted some of his duties. In ruling on the case, the U.S. District Court said Powers could not be involved in providing cloud services to any current, former or prospective Amazon customers “about whom he learned confidential information” while working there. In effect, Google beat Amazon to the punch by structuring Powers’ position so that it wouldn’t violate his non-compete.
It’s not yet clear whether a parallel can be drawn in the Szabadi case, though VentureBeat says Amazon seems to have adjusted its approach this time, “testing the legal limits of non-compete agreements.” In this instance, Amazon wants to specifically prevent Szabadi, “from engaging in any activities that directly or indirectly support any aspect of Google’s cloud computing business with partners or resellers.”
Google is said to be planning “a strong defense” for the lawsuit, according to CNET.
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