IBM Sues To Stop Former CIO From Taking Leadership Position At AWS


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IBM has filed a lawsuit trying to stop its former CIO from starting a new job with Amazon Web Services.

In a complaint filed last week in a New York federal court, Big Blue argues that Jeff Smith knows highly sensitive information about the next-generation of cloud computing technologies that IBM is currently developing, and will share them with AWS if allowed to work for the cloud rival.

IBM believes a non-compete agreement should prevent Smith's employment with any rival until May. The case was first reported by Westfair Online, a New York business news publication.

 [Related: CRN Exclusive: IBM Channel Chief Marc Dupaquier Leaving IBM To Work With Startups]

Smith "resigned to compete against IBM" and had knowledge of "IBM's most closely guarded product development plans," the lawsuit states.

Those plans allegedly involve new cloud offerings Big Blue intends to launch in the next year. They "will combine new hardware and software to provide Cloud Computing services to large enterprises that are faster, more secure and less expensive than before," the document states.

Such technological innovations will enable IBM to reduce prices on cloud infrastructure, pressuring AWS, perceived as a cost leader, IBM claims in seeking to enjoin Smith's employment.

"Mr. Smith possesses a wide range of highly confidential information on upcoming technological advances in IBM’s cloud design that would be extremely valuable to IBM competitors such as AWS," an IBM spokesperson told CRN.

"Mr. Smith, while employed by IBM in a senior technical position, engaged in repeated contacts with a senior executive at AWS and then wiped his mobile devices of data after informing IBM that he planned to violate his non-compete to go to work for the CEO of AWS. The company will vigorously protect its intellectual property," the spokesperson said.

AWS did not respond to a request for comment on the case.

IBM said that Smith was hired to serve as a vice president at AWS in a senior leadership role managing overall strategy and operations. He would report directly to AWS CEO Andy Jassy.

IBM also accused Smith in the court filings of already sharing corporate secrets with Jassy "while he was a trusted IBM executive."

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