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Motorola Sues Ex-Executive For Going To Apple

Motorola filed a lawsuit in Illinois a couple days ago against a former executive who left the company to become the head of Apple's iPhone sales division. This comes in a long line of departures for the flailing device maker, as it's lost several valuable employees to rival companies in recent months.
Motorola filed a lawsuit in Illinois a couple days ago against a former executive who left the company to become the head of Apple's iPhone sales division. This comes in a long line of departures for the flailing device maker, as it's lost several valuable employees to rival companies in recent months.The suit names Mike Fenger, who quit Motorola in March as senior VP of mobile devices for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and claims breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets when he violated his noncompete agreement by leaving the company for Apple.

Fenger agreed to receive stock options to refrain from working for a competitor for two years after leaving Motorola. As said in the lawsuit; "In his new position...he cannot perform his duties for Apple without inevitably disclosing Motorola's trade secrets." They're seeking to expunge Fenger from his job until March 2010, as well as the reimbursement of millions of dollars in stock options he received in the agreement.

Seems Motorola isn't going quietly, as this isn't the first time it has brought legal action against former employees for joining rival companies. In 2005, it filed suit against former COO Mike Zafirovski when he was hired as CEO of Nortel Networks. In this case, Zafirovski was forced to refrain from contacting certain customers and from shaping Nortel's strategy to compete against Motorola for 18 months after he left.

The fact that so many employees are leaving for Apple is what really rubs Motorola the wrong way. Apple seems to be throwing it in their faces as well with stunts like a recruiting fair this past spring in a Mundelein, Ill., hotel near the Libertyville headquarters of Motorola's mobile-devices division. Supposedly, they were forced to cancel an earlier recruiting fair at the same hotel after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Motorola.

It's also interesting that when Mr. Fenger was leaving Motorola to join Apple, it was also the same time Apple was making global expansion of the iPhone its top priority. Since Fenger was head of Motorola's global device division in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, it gave him the perfect international know-how to expand the iPhone globally. Before overseeing Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Mr. Fenger had run the Latin American operations for Motorola as well. The iPhone just so happens to be making its way there, too. Coincidence?

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