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First blood to Microsoft in latest legal scrap with Salesforce.com

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1st Feb 2011
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Another day, another legal spat between Microsoft and Salesforce.com, as competition to dominate the lucrative Cloud CRM market gets ever tougher.

Last week Microsoft won a temporary restraining order to prevent Matt Miszewski, formerly a general manager of worldwide government at Microsoft, taking up a new role as an executive with Salesforce.com.
In a complaint filed with a Washington State Superior Court, Microsoft claimed that Miszewski violated his non-compete and confidentiality agreements when he accepted a job as a senior vice president with Salesforce.com. The lawsuit aims to permanently prohibit Miszewski from working at Salesforce within one year.
Microsoft argues that Miszewski had access to "confidential or proprietary business plans for its CRM and Cloud Computing solutions, plans that discussed explicitly and in detail Microsoft's strategy for competing with Salesforce.com and Microsoft's specific market strategy and intelligence regarding Salesforce.com."
"Miszewski was -- and is -- uniquely and intimately familiar with some [of] Microsoft's most confidential sales, marketing and production information for its CRM and Cloud Computing solutions ... including current and future product development plans, product introductions and market strategies, as well as Microsoft's competitive positioning and strategy within the Public Sector marketplace," Microsoft's complaint stated.
Microsoft will suffer immediate and certain irreparable harm if Miszewski is allowed to flout his Employee Agreement and compete against Microsoft for the very same customers, and for the very same services, in his new position at Salesforce.com. Given Miszewski's contacts with Microsoft's Public Sector customers, and his knowledge and possession of Microsoft's proprietary and confidential competitive strategies for the Cloud Computing marketplace, Microsoft has a well-grounded fear of serious harm.
David Howard, a Microsoft deputy general counsel, said: "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. This directly violates the confidentiality and non-competition agreements signed upon beginning work with our company."
Last year the two companies filed competing federal lawsuits alleging patent violations. They settled before the cases reached trial when each company agreed to extend patent coverage to the other. The latest row comes after Microsoft made its Dynamics CRM Online offering available outside the US and announced a pricing plan offer to lure Salesforce.com over to the Microsoft camp.
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