King County, Washington Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez on Tuesday found that ex-Microsoft researcher Kai-Fu Lee had misled the software giant and had exploited confidential Microsoft information when he first began working at Google. However, Gonzalez ruled that Lee could continue working for Google with certain restrictions. Specifically, he is allowed to help Google create a research lab in China and recruit potential employees. But he cannot use confidential Microsoft information in the course of his job, or work with natural language processing or speech recognition in his new capacity at Google.
Microsoft said it was pleased with the ruling. "Dr. Lee is going to be the highest-paid \[human resources\] manager ever," said Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel Tom Burt. "He can't tell \[Google recruits\] what to do, he can't direct them, \[and\] he can't manage them."
For his part, Lee, who had expressed frustration with Microsoft's slow pace in China, says he is happy to begin his new job. "Before today, I have not really been able to work, talk to people, or email anybody \[at Google\]," he said. "The importance of this is that it allows me to do my job. Google will eventually build two research labs in China, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai. The company hasn't yet decided which one to build first.