Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 10:21 AM

Massachusetts Judge Modifies Injunction - Permits Executive with Noncompete to Work for Hewlett-Packard in Limited Capacity

By Todd

It is not common for a judge to modify an injunction - but it happens.

The Boston Globe is reporting that a Suffolk County Superior Court has cleared the way for former EMC executive David Donatelli to start work at rival Hewlett-Packard. But the court barred Donatelli from working at any HP business unit that competes with EMC for one year.

Until his surprise resignation last month, Donatelli was president of EMC's data storage products operation, the company's biggest business unit and one that competes directly with HP's storage business. In late April, HP said Donatelli would become its executive vice president for enterprise servers, storage, and networking. But Donatelli had signed a contract with EMC stating that if he left the company, he would wait 12 months before taking a job at a competing firm.

Donatelli sought to get out of the contract by filing a lawsuit in California, where HP is headquartered and where courts generally refuse to enforce noncompete agreements. EMC filed a countersuit in Massachusetts, where Superior Court Judge Stephen Neel issued an injunction on May 4 barring Donatelli from taking the HP job.

On Thursday, Neel modified his injunction. The new version allows Donatelli to work for HP as long as he steers clear of the company's storage business. In a statement issued yesterday, HP said Donatelli will serve as executive vice president for enterprise servers and networking, and will take on leadership of the storage business after the injunction is lifted a year from now. Until then, HP's storage operation will be run by senior vice president Dave Roberson.

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