Amazon has reached a confidential legal settlement with Brian Hall, a former Amazon Web Services vice president of product marketing who was sued by the company after taking a job with Google Cloud in alleged violation of the non-compete clause in his Amazon employment agreement.
Hall changed his title on his LinkedIn profile overnight, signaling that he has been cleared to work as vice president of product and industry marketing at Google Cloud. He had listed his job as Google “VP in Purgatory” while the dispute was pending.
The case was the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by Amazon and others in Washington state to enforce non-compete clauses in employment contracts. The controversial agreements have essentially been banned in California. Washington state last year enacted new provisions meant to limit their applicability, but the law doesn’t apply to employees who earn more than $100,000 a year.
While Amazon and other tech companies treat the provisions as a necessary safeguard, critics say they put the Seattle region’s tech industry at a disadvantage to California.
“Settlement terms are usually secret, so we are left with the question of whether AWS is changing its overly-broad non-compete terms and/or its arbitrary enforcement of non-competes,” said Charles Fitzgerald, a Seattle-area angel investor and veteran tech executive who was a vocal supporter of Hall’s case. “At this point, all the uncertainty raised by the legal action against Brian Hall remains for anyone considering a job at AWS.”
Neither the company nor Hall is commenting on details of the settlement, and the court docket has yet to be updated with a record of the resolution.
In a tweet overnight, Hall thanked those who supported his case.
oh, and also some other things I can now do… THANK YOU to all of the people who have supported me in the last few months. @charlesfitz I think you can retire the #freebrianhall tag now. I won’t say much more… https://t.co/FRrJNg8vc8 https://t.co/CVaQlBJFJ7
— Brian Hall (@IsForAt) July 17, 2020
Hall left his role as vice president of product marketing for Amazon Web Services in March and took a senior product marketing job with Google Cloud in early April.
Amazon then sued Hall, claiming that the new role violated the terms of his non-compete agreement and risked exposing valuable competitive information to one of its biggest rivals. The company was seeking to enforce an 18-month non-compete provision in Hall’s employment contract, asking for an injunction to prevent him from working in cloud product marketing for Google during that period. This suit was unusual in that it involved a marketing leader, not an engineering executive or technical leader as in many other cases.