IBM Sues to Bar Former Services Manager From Joining Oracle

International Business Machines Corp., the largest computer-services provider, sued a former technology services manager to keep her from working at Oracle Corp., saying the new position violates a non-compete clause.

Joanne Olsen, a 31-year veteran of IBM, left the company this month to become a senior vice president at Oracle, according to the suit, filed June 16. As a general manager in IBM’s technology services division, Olsen knew about IBM’s growth strategies and potential acquisitions, the company said.

“As a long time general manager in our services business and as a member of the company’s leadership team, Joanne Olsen possesses valuable confidential information about IBM and our operations,” IBM spokesman Doug Shelton said today in an e- mailed statement.

IBM trails only Oracle and Microsoft Corp. in software sales. Oracle bought Sun Microsystems Inc. in January for $7.4 billion to enter the server-computer market, where they’ll also compete with IBM.

Olsen signed a non-compete clause in July 2009, stating she can’t join a competitor for a year after leaving, according to the suit. At Oracle, she would become senior vice president of on-demand services, managing the delivery of its applications and reporting directly to Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison, it said.

IBM, based in Armonk, New York, fell $1.92, or 1.48 percent, to $128.19 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading today. The shares were little changed this year before today.

The suit comes one year after IBM tried to keep David Johnson, its former head of mergers and acquisitions, from joining Dell Inc., another server-computer rival. A judge dismissed the case, saying Johnson didn’t have knowledge that would qualify as “quintessential trade-secret information.”

Olsen’s lawyer, Michael Delikat, of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, couldn’t be reached for comment. Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger also didn’t respond to requests for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katie Hoffmann in New York at khoffmann4@bloomberg.net

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