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BlackBerry sues exec to stay after being poached by Apple

post #1 of 68
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A Canadian court ruling issued on Tuesday reveals BlackBerry is holding an employment contract over SVP of Software Sebastien Marineau-Mes' head, blocking his departure from the flailing company after being hired away by Apple last year.

Marineau-Mes
Sebastien Marineau-Mes. Source: QNX


The Ontario Superior Court of Justice's ruling notes Marineau-Mes discussed leaving BlackBerry in September of 2013 and was formally offered the position of VP of Core OS in December, reports iMore. He accepted and handed in his letter of resignation on Dec. 23.

According to the court document, BlackBerry then sued Marineau-Mes over a breach of contract terms that stipulated the executive needed to provide at least six months notice before leaving the company. That contract was signed in September when the company promoted Marineau-Mes. At the time, BlackBerry was carrying out a freeze on all promotions.

The court sided with BlackBerry and agreed that the software exec needs to stay on for a full six months.

In a statement to iMore, BlackBerry said:

BlackBerry will not stand by while a former employee violates his employment contract. It is unfortunate that we had to take this step, but we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that employees honor the agreements they make with us. When we enter into an agreement with an employee, as we have with Mr. Marineau, we expect him to honor his commitment just as he would expect that we will honor ours. We are pleased that the court has endorsed our position and ruled that the employee contract and its terms are valid.


It is unclear if Apple will wait the four months for Marineau-Mes and what the executive will do at BlackBerry in the meantime.
post #2 of 68
On the one hand a contract is a contract, but with Marineau-Mes wanting to leave his heart won't be in it. Even if he's an ethical employee he'll be less productive than someone motivated by a company they believe in. Perhaps a buyout would have been better.

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post #3 of 68

They don't want him to miss out on his redundancy package.

post #4 of 68
Something tells me it won't stop what's gonna happen at either company.

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post #5 of 68
Oh geez, I'm sure he's going to be a model employee and contribute to the staggering morale of a dying company.
post #6 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

On the one hand a contract is a contract, but with Marineau-Mes wanting to leave his heart won't be in it. Even if he's an ethical employee he'll be less productive than someone motivated by a company they believe in. Perhaps a buyout would have been better.

I think they're going to give him the George Costanza/Play Now treatment.

 

Maybe my math is off, but the article states that he was contractually obligated to give six months notice, and he handed in his letter in December.  Doesn't that mean a wait until May...around two months from now?  Where is this four months referenced in the last sentence coming from?

post #7 of 68
Sure pay someone a truck load of money you can't use for anything because everything they do at this point will be used over at Apple to kill what's left of BB. This was a complete waste of resources. It's no wonder BB is going out of business.
post #8 of 68

Talent goes where genius can fellowship.

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post #9 of 68
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Originally Posted by Creep View Post

I think they're going to give him the George Costanza/Play Now treatment.

Maybe my math is off, but the article states that he was contractually obligated to give six months notice, and he handed in his letter in December.  Doesn't that mean a wait until May...around two months from now?  Where is this four months referenced in the last sentence coming from?

Good questions.

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post #10 of 68

This isn't fair to Apple.  They hired him fair and square, and should not have to put up with some dying Canadian has-been playing stupid games.  Times change and Blackberry might as well just give up.  They laughed at the iPhone but who is laughing now.  They are just jealous of Apple and that is why they want to mess with this guy and not let him have a better job at Apple.

post #11 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Sure pay someone a truck load of money you can't use for anything because everything they do at this point will be used over at Apple to kill what's left of BB. This was a complete waste of resources. It's no wonder BB is going out of business.

It's what happens when lawyers are listened to, too much! They make everybody look bad! :)

 

Most businesses go out of business in the first 3 years. ~95% of businesses that do make it, go out of business once the original founder dies. Apple, Ford, Boeing, Walmart, MacDonald's, etc., are exceptions to the rule....not the rule. Usually, businesses like BB, Montgomery Wards, CompUSA, etc., etc., hire incompetent CEO's that listen to the lawyers, accountants and overpriced consultants and slowly but surely run the business into the ground. That's the rule. They're known as "Store Closers!" They pad the numbers, eventually leave and go buy a boat in Florida.


Edited by christopher126 - 3/25/14 at 9:10pm
post #12 of 68
Blackberry sweetened the pot with a lifetime* supply of Canadian bacon and Maple Syrup.

*denotes lifetime of company.
post #13 of 68
Fire him and send him back to the desolate land from whence he came!

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post #14 of 68

This vid. is a bit old, but I can't take my eyes off her tongue! Let me know if you agree! :)

 

"Step one, lose the gun, step two, buy a canoe...."

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWQf13B8epw

 

Best


Edited by christopher126 - 3/25/14 at 9:25pm
post #15 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by SudoNym View Post
 

This isn't fair to Apple.  They hired him fair and square, and should not have to put up with some dying Canadian has-been playing stupid games.  Times change and Blackberry might as well just give up.  They laughed at the iPhone but who is laughing now.  They are just jealous of Apple and that is why they want to mess with this guy and not let him have a better job at Apple.


Perhaps not but the onus is on Marineau-Mes for not being forthcoming, and to a lesser extent Apple, for not properly investigating if such a situation as this existed.

post #16 of 68
Somehow I expect that if they would sever the agreement on their end, if they thought it was in their best interests, the guy would have no say in the matter, nor legal compensation if he fought them on it. The claim of honoring agreements, from a big corporate entity (regardless of failing or thriving), sounds horribly disingenuous to me.
post #17 of 68

Other than the lawsuit, I think it is an interesting hire. QNX has crazy efficient embedded tech that is used in a lot of industries. Heck, even CarPlay interacts with QNX. It will be interesting to see what he brings to the table...at least once he can actually start work.

 

As a side note...it is truly amazing what has happened to BlackBerry and to a lesser degree, Microsoft. They had such dominant positions in mobile.

post #18 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by WS11 View Post
 

While on the topic of buyouts, Lenovo was planning to make a bid on BlackBerry last year, but the Canadian government would not allow it. 

 

There's a lot of nationalism that comes with large corporations and BlackBerry at one point was a beacon of Canadian enterprise. Not so much anymore. It's kind of sad.

post #19 of 68

What a petty and vindictive action by BB. No wonder they're going out of business, when they waste their energy doing shit like this. The guy obviously doesn't even want to be there- they should have just let it go. Instead, they sue and force him to stay several more months, when he clearly cares little about the company and has minimal incentive to contribute to its success? This move was made more to punish the employee (and Apple) and has nothing to do with the contract. In my experience, most places are lenient with these things. The last place I left had 3 months notice in my contract, I didn't give them that amt of notice and they didn't care. No, obviously they just want tok keep this guy away from Apple for a while longer- as if it will make any difference. 

post #20 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

On the one hand a contract is a contract, but with Marineau-Mes wanting to leave his heart won't be in it. Even if he's an ethical employee he'll be less productive than someone motivated by a company they believe in. Perhaps a buyout would have been better.

A buy-out by who?

Marineau-Mes pays BlackBerry to leave? Nah'

and he was already leaving so Blackberry wouldn't have to pay him anything to leave...

post #21 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

A buy-out by who?
Marineau-Mes pays BlackBerry to leave? Nah'
and he was already leaving so Blackberry wouldn't have to pay him anything to leave...

By Apple.

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post #22 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post
 

A buy-out by who?

Marineau-Mes pays BlackBerry to leave? Nah'

and he was already leaving so Blackberry wouldn't have to pay him anything to leave...

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


By Apple.


I think in similar cases, the ex-employee would walk away from existing options, 401K, etc.. whatever for breaching the contract, and the new company would essentially pay the new employee extra for what they had to walk away from.

In this case, I think BB is just doing it to spite not only the employee, but Apple.  BB must feel like it's having salt rubbed into its wound by Apple, the one company that BB hilariously criticized back in 2007 as a nobody when the iPhone came out and almost single-handedly contributed to the BB's borderline demise.

It makes zero point to forcefully retain an employee that wants to leave.  It's all about ego.  Pay whatever to settle the contract-breach and move on.

At least BB's famous boondoggles will always live on...
http://www.phonearena.com/news/They-said-what-Great-quotes-from-Jim-Balsillie-and-Mike-Lazaridis_id31751


Edited by sflocal - 3/25/14 at 11:15pm
post #23 of 68
He signed the contract. Should have played better politics in the office if he wanted to reneg so soon after signing.
post #24 of 68
These people are a valuable asset and as so are protected by contract. He should have informed Apple of this and acted accordingly. As he has breached the contract BB should seek to protect there interests. In reality though they would not want to keep him, if he wants to leave he should negotiate some recompense for BB. And seek to be reimbursed from Apple.
post #25 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by SudoNym View Post

This isn't fair to Apple.  They hired him fair and square, and should not have to put up with some dying Canadian has-been playing stupid games.  Times change and Blackberry might as well just give up.  They laughed at the iPhone but who is laughing now.  They are just jealous of Apple and that is why they want to mess with this guy and not let him have a better job at Apple.

This from the guy who previously opined with regards to Apple engineers on normal contracts being poached.

.. you never work in consumer electronics ever again, there will be no problems. If you want to work in consumer electronics, you need to stay with Apple. Simple.
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post #26 of 68
I personally am dubious about this hire. Here's a quote.

HTML5, for example. It lets you build rich, dynamic applications and user interfaces that can run on multiple types of devices without significant re-engineering. It also has the support of a large developer community and frees you from vendor lock-in.

Cook isn't a software guy. The reason the iPhone is the best is software lockin. And the use of objective C and C. Marineu Mes might be a lone voice for now but moving away from apples Next inherited strengths would be disastrous.
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post #27 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaba View Post

These people are a valuable asset and as so are protected by contract. He should have informed Apple of this and acted accordingly. As he has breached the contract BB should seek to protect there interests. In reality though they would not want to keep him, if he wants to leave he should negotiate some recompense for BB. And seek to be reimbursed from Apple.

"No employee is irreplaceable."

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post #28 of 68
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Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

"No employee is irreplaceable."
"Irrelevant"
post #29 of 68
This is more to do with delaying his move to Apple than anything else as there can be no other advantage to BB; they'll probably lock him in a room with no internet, no computer, no telephones and no colleagues and have him sit there for six months doing nothing just so that Apple can't use his talents. Six months is a long time in IT.

Most companies though put people on "Gardening Leave" which means they stay at home but still can't work for the new employer - and anything they invent or work on in this time becomes the property of BB, not him, not Apple. So, no just doing the work for Apple from home as you can be sure BB would have the court check this out and see the dates on the data and documents...

Alternatively, he doesn't turn up to work and has to pay them back all the salary he has earned since September. Whatever BB do, they are limited by the "Unfair Restraint of Trade" provisions in Canadian Employment Law.

Six full calendar months beginning from the end of December would run until 30th June, even the best case scenario would run until only one week before that, the 23rd June. I assume he will take a lot of sick leave and annual leave and accumulated flexitime up until then.

Why BB took this action I can't imagine; did he see something confidential from September to December that is time critical and they want to protect it as long as possible? From a PR point of view, BB loses from this action though. It just looks silly.
post #30 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicwalmsley View Post

He signed the contract. Should have played better politics in the office if he wanted to reneg so soon after signing.

 

I wonder what his contract says about slacking off and not showing to work!

post #31 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Creep View Post
Maybe my math is off, but the article states that he was contractually obligated to give six months notice, and he handed in his letter in December.  Doesn't that mean a wait until May...around two months from now?  Where is this four months referenced in the last sentence coming from?

December 23 was when he notified them, so I'd expect that "six months" would be round about June 23. That's three months from now - "now" being March 26 - rather than four.

 

Execs get all kinds of deals that regular folks do not, such as retention deals and protection against arbitrary dismissal. In return they have longer notification requirements and no-competitor restrictions. It does seem tacky for him to have signed his deal in September - when others were not getting deals - and then bailing three months later. Not a class act.

post #32 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

I wonder what his contract says about slacking off and not showing to work!

Same as in Blazing Saddles I'd imagine. Docked a days pay for napping on the job. Lol
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post #33 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

It is unclear if Apple will wait the four months for Marineau-Mes and what the executive will do at BlackBerry in the meantime.

However long it takes, Federighi will want a guy with Marineau-Mes's experience and ability on his team. This is probably just a temporary setback. Apple has its sails set for a steady course. BlackBerry is trying frantically to keep its dinghy from foundering.
Edited by Kibitzer - 3/26/14 at 7:08am

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post #34 of 68
He accepted a promotion and weeks later handed resignation. If he was not going to Apple, I'm sure BB won't care. It is unfortunate for him.
post #35 of 68
In a way, it's a strange agreement to have made, because it's uninforcable. If the employee wants to leave, then what can be done about it? Is there a penalty? It doesn't say. That's the only thing that they can do.

You can't make an employee stay. If one wants to leave, for whatever reason, you don’t WANT them to stay. I never would have wanted an employee of mine to be forced to continue working for me. What good would that do?
post #36 of 68

Six months notice? Typically, I find a new job first before quitting my existing position. I would imagine it would be awkward to tell an interviewer that you can start your job six months after giving notice.

I also hate non-compete clauses. My contract says that if I leave my current employer I pretty much leave the industry for two-years. Although my HR claims they do not enforce it, but then why require a signature at all?

post #37 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

In a way, it's a strange agreement to have made, because it's uninforcable. If the employee wants to leave, then what can be done about it? Is there a penalty? It doesn't say. That's the only thing that they can do.


Such clauses are illegal in California, I believe, but BlackBerry is based in Canada so I am unfamiliar with Canadian law. My guess is that BlackBerry could sue to block employment elsewhere and for damages.

post #38 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicwalmsley View Post

He signed the contract. Should have played better politics in the office if he wanted to reneg so soon after signing.

 

Should have stuck to the terms and given 6 months notice. What many people seem to not realize is that 6 months for an executive lock-in isn't that long. In some countries almost all workers (both white and blue collar) must give 3 months notice. It is really weird to hear someone is leaving (gave notice) and then you still see them for almost 1/4 of a year. It isn't strange to them, it is just how it is. 

 

Does anyone know how much notice is normal under a Canadian employment contract?

post #39 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

I personally am dubious about this hire. Here's a quote.

HTML5, for example. It lets you build rich, dynamic applications and user interfaces that can run on multiple types of devices without significant re-engineering. It also has the support of a large developer community and frees you from vendor lock-in.

Cook isn't a software guy. The reason the iPhone is the best is software lockin. And the use of objective C and C. Marineu Mes might be a lone voice for now but moving away from apples Next inherited strengths would be disastrous.

 

Not exactly sure what you're trying to say here?

 

I honestly don't see how that quote has anything to do with iOS or Objective C. It does however directly relate to Apple's iCloud effort, especially iWork. Yes, maybe the "vendor lock-in" statement might fly in the face of iOS, but Apple has always been a strong advocate of HTML5.

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post #40 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

Not exactly sure what you're trying to say here?

I honestly don't see how that quote has anything to do with iOS or Objective C. It does however directly relate to Apple's iCloud effort, especially iWork. Yes, maybe the "vendor lock-in" statement might fly in the face of iOS, but Apple has always been a strong advocate of HTML5.

Not at all. If he is talking about HTML 5 in the same breath as opposing "vendor buyin" he is taking about apps. HTML apps. No walled garden. In fact that is clear from the rest of the paragraph too.
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