Tuesday , September 29 2020

Amazon is suing former AWS Marketing Vice President Brian Hall after taking a job on Google Cloud

Follow up: Amazon is asking the court to prevent the former AWS Marketing Vice President from working on Google Cloud Next speeches

Brian Hall was AWS Vice President of Product Marketing from June 2018 to early this year.

A lawsuit filed by Amazon against Brian Hall, former vice president of product marketing at Amazon Web Services, alleges that his new role in Google Cloud violates the terms of his non-competition with the Seattle company and risks providing valuable competitive information to one of his Companies expose biggest rivals.

In a response filed Monday to the King County Superior Court in Seattle, Hall lawyers said that Amazon executives had repeatedly led him to believe that the company had negotiated the non-competition agreement under its Boilerplate confidentiality agreement before and after his Signing the contract would not enforce the contract in June 2018.

It is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by Amazon and others in Washington state to enforce non-competition contracts in employment contracts. The controversial agreements have been largely banned in California, and Washington State has passed new regulations last year to limit their applicability.

Amazon is trying to enforce an 18-month non-competition clause in Hall's employment contract and is seeking an injunction to prevent him from working in cloud product marketing for Google during that period.

Hall urges the court to regulate the non-competition clause "overseas, inappropriate and unenforceable" and to state that his new role "does not require that he use or disclose confidential information from Amazon." (See court records below.)

The dispute underscores the ongoing rivalry between Amazon and Google in the cloud. The search giant opened a new Google Cloud campus on the outskirts of Amazon's headquarters in the South Lake Union district in Seattle, thereby intensifying competition for cloud talents against Amazon, Microsoft and others.

The new Google Cloud campus in the South Lake Union district in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

However, this suit is noteworthy in part because it is a marketing manager who is involved in the launch of products and not a technical manager with extensive technical knowledge in product development.

Hall "helped develop and knows the entire roadmap for Amazon 2020 confidential cloud products for 2020-21," said Amazon in his lawsuit filed on May 18. "Practically every day, Hall worked with Amazon's leading cloud managers to create and execute these plans. As a result, he was entrusted with an unusually broad view of Amazon's cloud product plans. His priorities; and his competitive strategy."

According to his response, Hall initially received assurances from Ariel Kelman, then AWS Vice President for Global Marketing, who told Hall that the clause was not enforceable.

"It was understandable for Hall: as designed, the clause is far more extensive than necessary to protect Amazon's legitimate business interests," the reply said. "Kelman also told Hall that he had never seen Amazon attempt to enforce the clause against a marketing representative, despite the fact that several of these employees previously held similar positions with Amazon's competitors. Hall accepted its position on Amazon depending on them Representations. "

Here is the full text of the clause contained as an exhibit in Amazon's lawsuit.

No competition. During employment and for 18 months after the separation date, the employee will not work directly or indirectly on behalf of the employee or on behalf of another company (e.g. as an employee, representative, partner or consultant) or support the development, manufacture, Marketing or selling products or services that are or are to compete with products or services that are sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or that are intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future), on which the employee worked or supported or on which the employee received or received confidential information.

Kelman then joined another AWS rival, Oracle, as Chief Marketing Officer in January this year.

In today's court answer, Hall's lawyers said that the fact that Amazon didn't take any similar action against Kelman influenced Hall's thinking when he considered Google's role. "As a manager of Hall, Kelman was exposed to at least the same (supposedly) confidential information as Hall and probably more during his employment at Amazon," the file said.

One difference, however, is that Hall lives in Washington and Kelman in California, where competition bans have largely proven to be unenforceable.

GeekWire has asked Kelman for comments in addition to Amazon and Google.

Amazon similarly sued Philip Moyer, a former Amazon Web Services sales manager, after taking a job at Google Cloud last year. A judge eventually agreed to restrict some aspects of Moyer's role at Google for the term of the agreement. However, the judge at the US District Court, Ricardo Martinez, described some provisions of the agreement as "unreasonable" and instructed Amazon to "make no attempt to match its non-competition clause to the task mandated by Moyer."

Hall was a longtime Microsoft manager and executive who worked at Redmond from 1995 to 2017 and eventually led the company's Surface business as a corporate vice president of devices. He was then CEO and COO of smart earbud maker Doppler Labs, before joining Amazon in June 2018.

Amazon's lawsuit states that Hall decided to leave after being "passed over for promotion". Amazon Web Services named Rachel Thornton Successor to Kelman as vice president of global marketing in January.

Hall's answer is that his last day of content work at Amazon was February 13, his job officially ended in late March, and he took up a senior position in product marketing at Google Cloud in early April.

On April 10, after Hall accepted the job, he texted two Amazon HR executives informing them of his new position. “Just an indication that I am on Google Cloud and do product marketing. There are restrictions to ensure that Amazon information is kept confidential, and I do not meet with customers I have worked with from Amazon. "

One of these Amazon HR managers, Paz Patel, replied with the message, according to Hall's submission: “Congratulations, I felt you would end up there. I am very happy about this news. "

A new law passed by the state of Washington last year has restricted competition bans with a number of exceptions, including a provision that enables such agreements to be enforced in cases where an employee earns more than $ 100,000 a year. Hall earned "far more" than this amount in 2019 and should also exceed this in his compensation for 2020, Amazon says in his lawsuit.

The lawsuit shows that legislation "has done nothing to stop this abusive work practice by the state's most influential employers," said Chris DeVore, managing partner of Founders & # 39; Co-op and former executive director of Techstars Seattle, against the spokesman became a competition ban.

In addition, DeVore noted that because of his role as marketing director, Hall "is not someone who embodies the technical trade secrets or intellectual property that are normally used to justify these claims."

Here's Amazon's complaint, followed by Hall's response.

Amazon v. Brian Hall – Comp… by Todd Bishop on Scribd

Amazon v. Brian Hall – Answer… by Todd Bishop on Scribd

About Corrie Donnelly

Corrie Donnelly is a computer engineer originally born in Germany. He was writing articles about technology and computer games for websites.

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