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Thursday, February 02, 2006

How far should non compete causes go?

According to Next Generation EA and Ubisoft Canada are in a legal battle over the recruitment of new talent.

EA Montreal GM Alain Tascan has sent a letter to Ubisoft Montreal boss Martin Tremblay which criticizes the company for requiring employees to sign non-compete clauses.
The non-compete clause restricts former Ubisoft members from working in other game-industry related positions for one year after their departure. The letter was sent just after EA hired a former Ubisoft artist.

In the fall of 2003, Ubisoft took EA to court in Quebec for hiring four Splinter Cell team members less than a year after leaving their former company.

EA has never sought legal action against Ubisoft for its aggressive solicitation and hiring of people who work at EA Montreal,' Tascan wrote. 'As long as our former employees respect their obligations of confidentiality, EA does not intend to prevent them from exercising their talents elsewhere.
Unfortunately, Ubisoft does not share EA�s commitment to employee freedom. The noncompetition clauses that Ubisoft requires all its employees to sign prevent fair competition and hinder the free circulation of talent. This policy effectively impedes the growth of our industry in Quebec."

In the past, Ubisoft has maintained that the clause is meant to protect trade secrets, and has claimed non-compete clauses are an industry standard in Canada, although EA has challenged that statement, claiming that "Ubisoft is one of the few companies in the Quebec game industry that forces its employees to sign non-compete clauses."

Non compete clauses are often used in the UK to stop not only talent from moving from studio to studio, but from companies developing new products from new talent.

What does this mean for the argument to move the industry to a more 'Hollywood studio' model where the industry is full of freelancers, when they are restricted from working? If we look at Hollywood's employment contracts there are non-compete clauses. But there isn't the inherent technology knowledge and skill development. Technology is pretty much a standard in the industry.

read more at Next Gen

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