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Yahoo Accused Of Raiding Workers 118

wellington map writes "Nuance Communications, a Menlo Park maker of speech-recognition software, has sued Yahoo for unfair competition and theft of trade secrets, accusing the Internet giant of raiding all but one of Nuance's research and development engineers. Nuance said 13 engineers from its Menlo Park and Montreal offices were 75 percent finished with a project that would allow people to search the Internet by speaking their queries into a telephone, rather than typing them on a computer keyboard. Nuance planned to sell the technology to companies like Yahoo."
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Yahoo Accused Of Raiding Workers

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  • by putko ( 753330 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @04:12AM (#13697301) Homepage Journal
    "Nuance said 13 engineers from its Menlo Park and Montreal offices were 75 percent finished with a project ..."

    That sounds like they aren't very finished. Who knows if they would have finished in time, if they were at that stage. Even if I thought I was 75% finished, we know I might only be half finished -- that last bit to finish is always a huge effort, and that's typically where you blow your schedule.

    You figure the business folks suing Yahoo have an interest in making it sound like they were more finished than less -- e.g. if they were 99% finished, and Yahoo! swooped in to recruit the whole bunch, that would look awful.

    So perhaps they were "50% finished" -- however you measure that (sounds like their app is a totally new piece of work, so you can't really estimate it well), and they pump it up to 75% finished.

    Also, why did so many of the guys split to go to Yahoo!? It looks to me like people were itching to leave. Considering this happened after a merger/buyout --and that one camper was pretty unhappy, perhaps the engineers were feeling bad and were looking to move somewhere nicer.
  • Typo, or Useless? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by darklordyoda ( 899383 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @04:19AM (#13697326)
    Do they mean "microphone", or is this some sort of weird unholy spawn of VoIP and Internet search?
  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @05:25AM (#13697460)
    the thing is, people will work for whoever they want. fair enough they can't steal idea's and tech from their former employers. but companys do NOT have the right to devalue you through overly strict non compets in order to prevent you improving your position in life. that goes against every ideal of any capitalist nation. increasingly i see corperations attempting to turn employment into the new serfdom. they demand total loyalty from employees while reserving the right to lay off 1000's just to pump up profits a few %.

    bottom line, is if i have experience in something and i'm good at it, i'll work for ever i want and anyone who has anything to say about it can just fuck off.

  • Re:Typo, or Useless? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blanks ( 108019 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @07:09AM (#13697672) Homepage Journal
    My first thought by the word microphone was cellphone, speak a name like a resturant or movie, and the top queries are displayed for you.
  • by neosake ( 655724 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @09:11AM (#13697943) Homepage
    "[...] fails to include any clause in their contracts (if they signed any) that prohibits them from making off with tech developed under his banner, and he gets mad at Yahoo!"

    IANAL, but in Canada, as far as I recall, there were a few cases of lawsuits for violation of non-competition clauses that were lost based on violation of the clauses violating human rights [un.org]. I don't recall though if they were cases of "stealing" technology though.

    Article 23.

    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

  • by Darkman, Walkin Dude ( 707389 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @10:06AM (#13698148) Homepage

    So lets say I have an idea. Its a good idea, maybe a great idea. And lets say I hire a couple of people who know what they are doing to research it, check out the competition. Then I put in the money to get a premises, get equipment installed, and get some HR people to find and hire some engineers to implement the idea. Using their training and skills to complete it, while collecting a healthy wage every week, and being instructed on what exactly these ideas are. When the work is done, the marketing and sales people swing into action, to let others know about my good and valuable idea, and advertisements are paid for on a wide variety of media.

    Before I can get the last part going though, some nimrod middle manager decides he isn't getting enough attention and power, and takes the whole kit and kaboodle to a much larger and more powerful company, with marginal interest in my field. In fact, I had been negotiating with them to licence my idea. This fucknuts then decides that since he by himself doesn't really know a thing, he needs to pull along some others to pump up his wages, and circulates around an email. Since these people are used to doing what he tells them anyway, its easy to just go with the herd.

    And this is what has happened here.

    Now what you are saying has merit, no doubt. But if you want to play the game of doing the work on the projects and then skating off to the competition, you won't get work with me or anyone else. Here's what I suggest you do. Get your own ideas, pay for your own research, plant, and equipment, do your idea yourself, if you can, and then pay to market it. Then you can tell anyone you like to fuck off. Until then, fuck off.

  • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @10:57AM (#13698331) Homepage
    I did some research on non-compete clauses as recognized by Ontario courts recently and there's some nice precedents in favor of the employees.

    If you sign a non-compete *after* you're already working there it's much harder to enforce. And if the contract is one-sided in favor of the employer, then the employee can easily challenge it. Seems that if you sign one, it should have as much benefit to you as it does to them.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.