Mike Fenger the VP of global sales for the Apple iPhone is in trouble after his previous employer Motorola sued him for allegedly violating a non-compete agreement by taking a job at Apple. Motorola also allege that he then went on to hire two other former Motorola employees.
The legal action against the man responsible for iPhone sales in Australia alleges breach of contract and threatened misappropriation of trade secrets.
According to the Wall Street Journal his hiring follows a deterioration in Motorola’s mobile phone business in the past 18 months. That has led to an exodus of employees to rivals including Apple, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. and Cisco Systems.
The legal action which was filed last week in the USA alleges that Mr. Fenger agreed when he received stock options to refrain from working for a competitor for two years after leaving Motorola. It doesn’t claim Mr. Fenger stole documents, but simply that Mr. Fenger learned about the communications industry through his work at Motorola. “In his new position … he cannot perform his duties for Apple without inevitably disclosing Motorola’s trade secrets,” the lawsuit states.
The suit didn’t name the two employees he allegedly helped Apple recruit.
According to the WSJ, Apple has been among the primary beneficiaries of the exodus from mobile devices, as it has boosted hiring of engineers and others with know-how about mobile devices to help get its iPhone business off the ground.
Given his international experience, Mr. Fenger was a valuable hire for Apple, which has made global expansion of the iPhone a priority. The original iPhone was available through carriers in only a few markets, but Apple last week began selling the new iPhone in 21 countries including Australia.