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Dr. Atul Gawande, the CEO of Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway’s joint healthcare venture. (Center for American Progress Photo via Flickr)

Former UnitedHealth executive David Smith can keep his new gig with the healthcare joint venture between Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

The decision was in response to a request by UnitedHealth’s Optum group for a temporary restraining order against Smith, whom the company sued for allegedly taking trade secrets to the joint venture.

Judge Mark Wolf also ordered the case to be moved to arbitration, which means that future developments won’t be public.

The background: Smith joined the healthcare venture, nicknamed “ABC” in the lawsuit, after leaving his position at Optum in December. Optum said that Smith stole trade secrets while he was interviewing for the new position of director of product strategy and research at the joint venture.

The intrigue: The lawsuit forced the venture to disclose specifics around its goals, which it had avoided doing in the past. Earlier this week, the venture’s Chief Operating Officer Jack Stoddard revealed that the company is looking at insurance benefits, primary care and pharmacy costs.

Stoddard denied that the unnamed company would compete with Optum. The joint venture, which launched early last year, has said that it will not seek a profit and aims to reduce costs and improve care for the more than 1.2 million workers and family members who receive healthcare through the three companies.

Optum isn’t giving up. The company said in a statement it was “committed to protecting our confidential information and will aggressively do so in arbitration.”

A spokesperson for the joint venture declined to comment.

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