IBM, Oracle Settle Poaching Suit - InformationWeek
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8/12/2010
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IBM, Oracle Settle Poaching Suit

Resolution of non-compete spat frees up industry veteran Joanne Olsen to head Oracle's cloud efforts.

IBM and Oracle appear to have settled a lawsuit involving a longtime Big Blue executive who attempted to jump ship to join Larry Ellison's company.

IBM in June sued 31-year veteran Joanne Olsen after she informed the company of her plans to join Oracle as senior VP for on-demand services. IBM claimed Olsen's move violated a non-compete agreement she signed.

But papers filed this week in a New York court show that both parties have agreed to dismiss the case voluntarily, indicating a settlement. That would mean Olsen is free to join Oracle, where she would head up a unit that hawks cloud-based versions of Oracle's enterprise software products.

Cloud services, which allow businesses to tap software over the Internet, are one of the IT market's hottest sectors.

As of early Thursday however, Olsen, who was IBM's general manager for Business Continuity and Resiliency Services, was not listed on Oracle's roster of key executives. In its original complaint, IBM said her departure was in clear violation of her non-compete deal.

"Oracle is a significant and major competitor of IBM and Oracle competes with the business units and divisions at IBM in which Ms. Olsen worked," IBM stated in its complaint, filed June 16.

Earlier in the document, IBM noted that Olsen "has gained access to trade secrets and confidential information concerning the company's strategic plans, marketing plans, proprietary customer and distributor lists, and long-term business opportunites."

IBM has been quick to ask the courts to enforce its executives' non-compete agreements. As first reported by InformationWeek, the company in May 2009 sued mergers & acquisitions chief David Johnson after Johnson disclosed his intention to join Dell.

In November 2008, IBM sued microchip expert Mark Papermaster, who left Armonk to head up Apple's iPhone development efforts. Both cases resulted in settlements that allowed Johnson and Papermaster to leave IBM under certain conditions.

In a twist, Papermaster left Apple last week amid the so-called Antennagate fiasco.

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