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Ubisoft obtains injunction against THQ to prevent talent drain

Patrice Désilets named as breaching non-solicit contract at THQ Montreal

Ubisoft has taken a court injunction out against ex-employees Patrice Désilets and Adolfo Gomez-Urda to prevent them from continuing to breach non-solicitation clauses in their employment contracts.

Both were accused of headhunting former Ubisoft colleagues to join them at the new THQ Montreal studio.

The story was originally broken by French site Rue Frontenac, and was translated and pursued by Game Informer, which received the following Ubisoft statement.

This procedure aims to protect Ubisoft Montreal in a breach of contract situation, and to defend the long-term financial and creative health of the studio.

Statement from Ubisoft

"Ubisoft has filed a request before the Superior Court of Québec for injunction orders against THQ Inc. in order to have them comply with the non-solicit clause included in Ubisoft Montreal's employee work contracts. The Superior Court of Québec has granted the injunctions to the satisfaction of Ubisoft.

"This procedure aims to protect Ubisoft Montreal in a breach of contract situation, and to defend the long-term financial and creative health of the studio."

The Assassin's Creed creator and fellow ex-Ubisoft employee Gomez-Urda now both work for THQ's new 'super studio' in Montreal, with Désilets leaving in May, 2010 after twelve years at the studio and six working on Assassin's Creed.

Shortly afterwards, in July of that year, it was announced that THQ would be opening the Montreal office, with Désilets widely speculated to be that studio's new head. Not long after that, Désilets was confirmed in the job, beginning only when his non-compete clause with Ubisoft expires in May.

Between July 2010 and the present, three high-ranking members of the Assassin's Creed team announced their resignation from Ubisoft, citing various reasons for doing so. The three staffers were artistic director Alex Drouin, production manager Mark Besner, and associate producer Jean-Francois Boivin. All had signed up to THQ's new Montreal venture, working under Désilets.

Ubisoft's pique turned to ire when THQ's Danny Bilson made explicit in an interview with Joystiq that all three had been headhunted from Ubisoft as a result of a direct request from Désilets.

"I don't think I can talk about the other three people we've already contracted," said Bilson. "I just know Patrice said, 'I need these three guys.' And I said 'Okay! Whatever you need!' We put all of them on retention and got them started on their 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."

By implicating Désilets in the decision, Bilson made it clear that the studio head was in breach of the non-solicitation clause of his contract, designed to prevent key members of staff from cherry-picking colleagues to accompany them to pastures new.

Adolfo Gomez-Urda was also named by Ubisoft as having approached his former colleague in the localisation department, Margherita Seconnino, and encouraging her to join also. Both are now under point of law to refrain from attempting to recruit any further former Ubisoft staff.

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