Beleaguered Motorola accuses Apple iPhone executive of taking trade secrets

“Motorola Inc., the largest U.S. mobile-phone maker, has sued a former executive now working for Apple Inc., accusing him of disclosing its trade secrets to aid in the marketing of Apple’s iPhone,” Andrew Harris reports for Bloomberg.

MacDailyNews Take: As if Apple needed any aid whatsoever in marketing against Motorola’s dinosaur phones.

Harris continues, “Michael Fenger in March ended a six-year career at Motorola where he was a vice president for the company’s mobile-device business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He is now Apple’s vice president for global iPhone sales, according to a complaint filed yesterday in state court in Chicago. ‘He was privy to the pricing, margins, customer initiatives, allocation of resources, product development, multiyear product, business and talent planning and strategies being used by Motorola,’ according to the complaint.”

MacDailyNews Take: Come on, Motorola had “planing and strategies?” Oh, yeah: “Rest on our laurels and do nothing except blow smoke up our investor’s asses while we rapidly lose our mobile phone business by being hopelessly out-innovated and outclassed by Apple. You know, like Palm.”

May 10, 2007: Motorola’s then-Chairman and then-CEO Ed Zander said his company was ready for competition from Apple’s iPhone, due out the following month. “How do you deal with that?” Zander was asked at the Software 2007 conference in Santa Clara, Calif. Zander quickly retorted, “How do they deal with us?”IDG News Service

Harris continues, “Fenger’s employment by Apple violates his written promise not to work for a competitor for at least two years after leaving Motorola, the company said in the complaint. Motorola seeks a court order barring Fenger from working for Apple.”

Full article here.

Can’t compete? Litigate.

Nobody said the bloodbath would be pretty.


  1. their very initiative to sue speaks volumes about their desperation and foreboding of impending disaster in phone revenues. that coupled with the previously written option MOTO was considering of splitting off its unprofitable phone business puts Motorola, Erikson, and RIM in revealing light.

  2. Non-compete agreements are very typical in the tech sector. I’ve had to sign a few in my time. But most are not enforceable unless a solid connection can be established between technologies or strategies developed at Motorola and those of Apple. And we all know that’s never going to happen. I would say Mr. Fenger has nothing to worry about, and even if he did, Apple would indemnify him anyway.

    Besides, the only reason this is coming up is Moto’s failures in the cellular biz anyway – what do they have in the way of ANY smartphone that would compete with anyone?


  3. If Fenger signed a non-compete contract when leaving Motorola then I think they have grounds for a suit against him. We don’t know the specifics, but executive often receive bonus upon leaving a company that come at the price of non-competition. He may be in a bit of trouble here.

  4. “Fenger’s employment by Apple violates his written promise not to work for a competitor for at least two years after leaving Motorola, the company said in the complaint. Motorola seeks a court order barring Fenger from working for Apple.”

    Is slavery still allowed in the USA?

  5. Apple is based in California and California is a ‘right to work’ state. My understanding is that non-competes are largely unenforceable in California on the grounds that preventing you from working in an area where you have expertise prevents you from working.
    This seems more like sour grapes and an attempt to distract…a nuisance suit rather than something Motorla is really serious about.
    But…I’m not a lawyer…tho’ I did consult one when this issue affected me in California once upon a time.

  6. Michael Fenger is NOT working for a competitor. Motorola makes cheap crap with no innovation. Apple makes mobile computers that…. oh yeah, just happen to make cell calls.

    No competition at all… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    Just a thought


  7. lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0 :0

    It is the most funniest thing I ever heard? are those guys for serious? I am pretty sure they are just joking. I bet you.

  8. Come on – everybody knows someone with a title like V.P. wouldn’t know a thing about any real secrets or development. To jump from Motorola to Apple shows that at least he’s smart or a great salesman. Moto heads probably wished they had paid attention to what the guy had to say in meetings while he worked for them.

  9. It very much depends upon the jurisdiction which the non-compete agreement is to be interpreted under, as well as the specificity of the restrictions.

    Many non-competes are designed to protect proprietary information, like customer lists, patents, etc. If Motorola is simply trying to prevent Fenger from working at Apple in a marketing position, they’ll have a tough time winning unless the agreement states a VERY non-compete friendly jurisdiction.

  10. @ MDN’s take:

    “Can’t compete? Litigate.”

    Be prepared to throw that back at Apple when Apple files suit against the next Psystar, Microsoft, etc.

    The only other option Motorola has is to throw RAZR phones at Fenger, which would lead to battery charges anyway.

  11. I used to work at Motorola. I have never seen such a disorganized, management free organization. Why they are taking the trouble to sue over this guy is beyond me. they have enough problems and they are wasting their time with this? I’ll bet they are just doing it as a warning to whats left of their management that they same thing will happen to them if they leave the company.

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