BlackBerry Sued An Executive Who Defected To Apple

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The story goes BlackBerry senior vice president for software Sebastian Marineau-Mes resigned from his post in late December 2013 after Apple offered him a position as vice president of Core OS. But BlackBerry wouldn’t let him go and sued for breach of contract.

Marineau-Mes alleged his contract is not a valid and enforceable one.

The Guardian reports that a court sided with BlackBerry and ruled that Marineau-Mes is bound by his contract until June 23, 2014. Apple will have to wait.

According to court documents, the contract in question requires Marineau-Mes to notify BlackBerry six months prior to leaving. This lockup expires on June 23, 2014.

These documents tell a woeful story for Marineau-Mes. They acknowledge BlackBerry’s downturn and the appointment of John Chen as the company’s new CEO in November 2013. However, apparently, during discussions between Marineau-Mes and Chen, it was discussed that “Marineau-Mes’ role might ultimately be narrower in scope than originally contemplated.”

Marineau-Mes had started talking to Apple in September 2013 and eventually gave BlackBerry notice of his resignation on December 23, 2013, informing his employer that he would “likely” join Apple in approximately two months.

However, Marineau-Mes sees it differently and points to various items including the fact that he had failed to take the EVP position and the contract is largely against Canadian public policy.

BlackBerry has every right to protect its interests including expecting executives to fulfill their roles and duties at the company. But dragging this into court will not likely result in a rush of replacement applicants knowing the predecessor was tied to a sinking ship by the captain.

BlackBerry’s statement:

BlackBerry will not stand by while a former employee violates his employment contract. It is unfortunate that we had to take this step, but we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that employees honor the agreements they make with us. When we enter into an agreement with an employee, as we have with Mr. Marineau, we expect him to honor his commitment just as he would expect that we will honor ours. We are pleased that the court has endorsed our position and ruled that the employee contract and its terms are valid.