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THQ wins Ubisoft poaching case

Judge rules no conflict of interest over THQ's recent hirings

A judge has ruled in THQ's favour in a dispute with Ubisoft over staff poaching claims.

The Assassin's Creed publisher alleged that THQ was poaching staff despite their non-compete contract clauses, and sought an injunction. The judge ruled against this, deciding there was no conflict of interest.

"The Court of Appeal's decision is a tremendous victory for THQ Montreal and all of the creative talent working in the video game industry in Montreal. We are thrilled with the Court's decision in this matter because we believe strongly in an individual's freedom to choose where they want to be employed," said THQ's EVP of business and legal affairs Ed Kaufman.

"Our goal has always been to promote free competition and to allow the many creative talent in the interactive entertainment industry in Montreal to be able to choose where they want to work. We believe the Court of Appeal's decision will promote competition, alleviate people's fears and encourage more talented people to join Patrice and our other creative employees at our state-of-the-art studio in Montreal."

In January THQ's Danny Bilson admitted he was hiring three more staff from Ubisoft.

"I don't think I can talk about the other three people we've already contracted because I wouldn't ... I just know Patrice said, 'I need these three guys.' And I said 'Okay! Whatever you need!'," he admitted.

"We put all of them on retention and got them started on their non-competes [non-compete clauses]. I kind of know what their roles are, but they were the most important people to Patrice. All three of them are Ubi."

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Latest comments (7)

Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 9 years ago
The whole notion that core creative talent should be "employed" - like accountants or plumbers or something - is ridiculous to begin with.

For centuries core creators in other industries have been free agents. There is no reason why they shouldn't be in the game industry as well.
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Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer 9 years ago
So big game companies are allowed to let people go whenever they don't have a project or screwed up a project to mismanagement, but when that people want to leave on their own terms, they throw a tantrum? Sounds really fair.
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Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer 9 years ago
Arg, I get a server error when I try to edit my comment. Excuse my poor writing.
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Show all comments (7)
Patrick Williams Medicine and Research 9 years ago
As Tyler mentioned, it adds volatility to the market, but in the end, this would only act as a selective pressure to reduce mismanagement and abuse.
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Nathan Runge Managing Director, Genius Interaction Pty Ltd9 years ago
I agree with Tyler Moore's position that employees should have a free choice in their place of work, so long as they do not compromise the interests of their former employer by revealing trade secrets, confidential material or other matters. The legal decision itself is interesting, and I would like to know the grounds for the decision (such as whether they were not breaching the agreement, or whether the agreement was not enforceable).

I disagree with Tim Carter, however, in that it is completely reasonable for the "core creative talent" to be "employed". I know most people prefer the security that brings. Certainly there are many organisations that maintain a more freely adaptive core team, so the option is available for those that wish it.
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises9 years ago
Hopefully they'll get to work on something better than uDraw 2.0.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 9 years ago
Patrick, freer flow of goods (employees in this case) or information generally reduces market volatility, not increases it. Which is pretty much what you go on to say next: the price offered for the goods (i.e., the package of salary and working conditions offered to employees) will tend to equalize more across different companies as it becomes easier for employees to move between companies.
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