Judge says <i>non</i> to ex-Ubisoft exec's Vivendi move

Martin Tremblay's move to Vivendi blocked in Quebecois courts, thanks to a non-compete clause he once defended.


Martin Tremblay this week has found himself in the spotlight--maybe a fitting place to be for someone assuming a rather grand position amid the sprawling Vivendi (formerly Vivendi Universal) organization in star-studded Los Angeles. On April 19, Tremblay was hired to be Vivendi Games' president of worldwide studios.

But that move has been tripped up by some legal maneuvering. Tremblay's former colleagues in Montreal have filed an injunction in Quebec Superior Court, according to the company. The document, an interlocutory injunction, asks that Tremblay "abstain and cease immediately, directly or indirectly, competing with applicant Ubisoft and cease immediately working, directly or indirectly, within the territories of Canada, the United States and Mexico, for his own behalf or on behalf of any third party, in any business which manufactures or commercializes video products that may compete with products sold, manufactured or developed by applicant Ubisoft."

Interestingly, Tremblay is now the subject of a non-compete policy he once defended--most memorably when it was applied to five former Ubisoft Montreal staffers who left the studio in 2003 and took jobs with the Electronic Arts operation in the same town.

At the time, Tremblay was adamant that Ubisoft's insistence that new hires sign non-complete documentation (in effect for one year after they leave the company) was perfectly legal in Quebec. "We use [the non-compete] if we feel the people [leaving] have too much information," Tremblay told GameSpot. Tremblay further explained that in the studio's eight years of existence, it chose to block the move of only five employees--a tiny percentage of the hundreds of staffers who have come and gone in that span of time.

That number can now be increased to six, with Tremblay himself caught in the crosshairs.

According to Ubisoft, the injunction filed on Monday is set to expire on May 9. At that time, the company can choose to seek additional legal powers to prevent Tremblay from working for Vivendi Games--and by the language of the court, the odds appear to favor just that:

"With full knowledge of the situation [Tremblay] chose to be employed by Vivendi, knowing full well that he was heading for a serious confrontation," Judge Robert Mongeon said yesterday. "To provoke such a confrontation...if only for the fact that he himself had commanded the litigation involving Ubisoft and Electronic Arts in 2003...[and] now complain of the resulting inconvenience demonstrates, at the very least, a brazen attitude."

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