Daniel Powers (via LinkedIn)

A federal judge in Seattle has largely rejected Amazon.com’s attempt to restrict the work of former Amazon Web Services global sales vice president, Daniel Powers, in his new job at Google.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones ruled yesterday that Daniel Powers “may not directly or indirectly assist in providing cloud computing services to any current, former, or prospective customer of Amazon about whom he learned confidential information while working at Amazon.”

That restriction will be in place until March 2013 under the preliminary injunction issued by the court.

However, the judge declined to enforce the more sweeping non-competition provisions of Powers’ employment agreement with Amazon. Among other things, Amazon had asked the court to prevent Powers from engaging in “any activity that directly or indirectly supports any aspect of Google’s cloud computing business that competes with Amazon’s cloud computing business” for 18 months after his departure.

Here’s what the judge had to say about that …

Amazon has failed to articulate how a worldwide ban on cloud computing competition is necessary to protect its business. Its ban on working with former customers serves to protect the goodwill it has built up with specific businesses. A general ban on Mr. Powers’ competing against Amazon for other cloud computing  customers is not a ban on unfair competition, it is a ban on competition generally.  Amazon cannot eliminate skilled employees from future competition by the simple expedient of hiring them. To rule otherwise would give Amazon far greater power than necessary to protect its legitimate business interest.

Amazon originally filed the suit in King County Superior Court, before it was transferred to federal court. Read the full ruling here: PDF, 21 pages.

Comments

  • http://wac6.com/ William Carleton

    Fascinating order, ton of substance, clearly written. Good primer on the law around noncompetes in Washington (even though it sounds like Powers now lives in California). Thanks for taking the trouble to post the whole order, Todd.

    You wouldn’t happen to also have pulled the “Confidentiality, Noncompetition and Invention Assignment Agreement” Powers signed? The order says it was attached as an exhibit to another filing.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Hi Bill – You bet, just grabbed it. See Exhibit B here — http://www.geekwire.com/wp-content/uploads/exhibit.pdf

      Let me know if you end up writing anything on this. :)

      • http://wac6.com/ William Carleton

        Super! Thanks, Todd.

        Will do! :)

  • Peter H

    Can’t help but wonder if there is other back story here.

    This guy used to work for IBM (not exactly cutting edge), and was given severence in lieu of termination (see 10/28/12 GW article) from the market leader Amazon.

    So he goes to the way, way distant also-ran in this space, App Engine.

    So there optics here are not stellar in terms of him being a star hire…

    • JackD

      I guess you haven’t heard of Google Cloud Engine. Do try to keep up before commenting.

  • james

    Good! Its time these large corporations giants stop dictating to the common man how and where they can earn their livelihood.

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