Motorola Inc. today announced a lawsuit against the former president of its semiconductor business, Hector de J. Ruiz, alleging that he has broken a contract by recruiting Motorola chip executives to join Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Last January, Ruiz surprised the industry and Motorola by deciding to join AMD as president and chief operating officer.
Motorola said it filed suit today against Ruiz in Austin, Tex., seeking injunctive relief and damages. According to Motorola, Ruiz signed an agreement in January to not solicit or induce certain members of the company's senior management to join AMD. Motorola said Ruiz was paid a "substantial six-figure amount" in return for his promise.
"Only months later, he directly breached that agreement by luring away a senior Motorola finance officer," claimed Motorola in a statement issued today. Motorola said its suit alleges breach of contract and tortious interference against Ruiz.
In fact, AMD of Sunnyvale, Calif., today announced the appointment of former Motorola executive Robert Rivet as its senior vice president and chief financial officer. For three years, prior to joining AMD, 46-year-old Rivet served as senior vice president and director of finance of Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector in Austin. Rivet was a 24-year veteran of Motorola.
"We intend to enforce our agreements," declared Bob Growney, president and chief operating officer of Motorola in Schaumburg. "Motorola upheld its end of the bargain, but Mr. Ruiz did not."
A spokesman from AMD told SBN today that the company has not seen a copy of suit and declined to comment on the matter. "We don't believe [the suit] will affect our business relationship with Motorola," the spokesman added.
Two years ago, Motorola and AMD entered into a broad-ranging strategic alliance covering a patent cross-licensing agreement and a joint effort to develop wafer processing technologies for microprocessors and embedded flash memory. Under that alliance Motorola licensed its copper-interconnect technology to AMD. The two companies have also been rumored to be considering a 300-mm joint-venture fab, but it remains unclear whether that kind of cooperation could move forward after today's suit.
Earlier this month, AMD announced it had hired a former Motorola chip manager as its vice president of intellectual property. Harry Wolin took that position in the Technology Law Department of AMD after working for 12 years at Motorola. Prior to his departure, Wolin was vice president and director of legal affairs for Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector. It was unclear whether this hiring played a factor in Motorola's decision to sue Ruiz.