Networking software giant Novell has won an injunction against three former employees, preventing them from using knowledge they gained at the company to develop software for their own business venture.
The injunction was made by the Utah Fourth District Court against three engineers - Jeff Merkey, Darren Major and Larry Angus - who previously worked on Novell's Wolf Mountain clustering technology. They left in April 1997 to set up their own company.
The setup was originally called Wolf Mountain Group but later changed its name to Timpanogas Research Group when its relationship with Novell turned sour.
The networking giant threatened the operation with legal action, accusing the founding group of breach of contract, misuse of trademark, infringement of intellectual property and misappropriation of trade secrets (PC Dealer, 30 April 1997).
Under the ruling last week, Timpanogas was prohibited from developing software for nine months, after Judge Schofield ruled that the startup intended to base its product on Novell technology. The judge said that while clustering technology was in the public domain, used in the way Timpanogas had planned, it constituted a trade secret.
Commenting on the ruling, Merkey, Timpanogas CEO, said it was 'intellectual slavery' and went on to accuse the court of giving Novell an 18-month advantage over his company and other clustering developers.
He said that the judge allowing former employers 'to extend control over ex-employees and what they can do in their careers after leaving their employment for up to two years, is a form of intellectual slavery'.
Merkey added that Timpanogas may seek a stay and appeal against the ruling.
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