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Motorola Exec Sued for Taking Job With Rival Says He Had OK

The executive’s attorney says the suit is the result of Motorola’s effort to boost perceptions of its network business, which it has been rumored to be trying to sell as part of its larger plans to split up the company.

February 16, 2010
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A laid-off sales executive sued by Motorola Inc. for taking a job with rival Ericsson says he had permission from his boss and from co-CEO Gregory Brown to take the new position.

Daniel Aderhold, who spent 31 years at Motorola before being laid off in May as a vice president of sales in its wireless network unit, says he took a similar job at Ericsson after Motorola lost out in its bid to supply next-generation gear to Verizon Wireless.

Motorola sued Aderhold last month to prevent him from overseeing the Verizon account for Ericsson, claiming he violated a noncompete clause in his separation package and that he couldn’t take the new position without revealing trade secrets such as product strategy, violating a confidentiality agreement.

Aderhold’s attorney claims the suit is the result of Motorola’s effort to boost perceptions of its network business, which it has been rumored to be trying to sell as part of its larger plans to split up the company.

“This is part of Motorola’s marketing strategy, to put lipstick on a corpse, which is their networks business, and to keep other employees from abandoning the sinking ship,” said Oak Brook, Illinois-based attorney Peter Lubin.

A Motorola spokeswoman said, “Aderhold signed a noncompete with Motorola, and we stand behind the allegations made in the complaint.”

A year ago, Motorola lost out to Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent on a bid to become a supplier of fourth-generation network equipment, known as LTE or long-term evolution, to Verizon. The loss was a serious blow to the viability and value of Motorola’s network equipment business, Aderhold states in an affidavit describing a conversation he had with  Brown a few weeks before his departure.

“Brown told me he lacked confidence that Motorola’s network divisions could compete in the global marketplace with its LTE technology, as the company had recently competed for and lost the major [LTE] technology bid for Verizon Wireless,” the affidavit states.

“Brown thanked me for my many years of employment ... and indicated he could ‘see no good reason why I should remain at Motorola.’ Further,  Brown stated that he had ‘no angst’ with what company I might work for in the future and that he did not care if, for instance, I went to work at [competitor] ‘Huawei.’ ”

Aderhold says that before taking a job with Ericsson in mid-June, he cleared it with Fred Wright, senior vice president of Motorola’s network business. “Wright congratulated me on finding a new position, plainly indicated he saw no problem with my employment at Ericsson, as I would not be competing with Motorola since it had recently lost the bid to be an approved LTE vendor to Verizon Wireless,” Aderhold’s affidavit states.


Filed by John Pletz of Crain’s Chicago Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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