In late 2009, gaming developer THQ announced plans to open a new studio and hire over 400 employees over a five year time frame. Then in June 2001, it was announced that Patrice Désilets was hired as Creative Director for the new studio after he resigned as Creative Director of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise, which triggered Ubisoft to file a law suit, claiming a non-compete agreement was violated. Last last week, a judgment was passed down and subsequently overturned a lower Court decision which had previously issued a provisional injunction against THQ.
“The Court of Appeal’s decision is a tremendous victory for THQ Montreal and all of the creative talent working in the video game industry in Montreal. We are thrilled with the Court’s decision in this matter because we believe strongly in an individual’s freedom to choose where they want to be employed,” said Ed Kaufman, EVP, Business and Legal Affairs, THQ. “Our goal has always been to promote free competition and to allow the many creative talent in the interactive entertainment industry in Montreal to be able to choose where they want to work. We believe the Court of Appeal’s decision will promote competition, alleviate people’s fears and encourage more talented people to join Patrice and our other creative employees at our state-of-the-art studio in Montreal.”
The Court of Appeal agreed with all of THQ’s arguments and dismissed the lower Court decision on the grounds that THQ was not bound by any non-competition restrictions and was therefore free to solicit any Ubisoft employee, provided THQ’s efforts did not amount to unfair competition. The Court went on to conclude that THQ’s solicitation of Ubisoft employees did not constitute unfair competition but rather the exercise of its legitimate legal rights based on the principle of liberty of commerce and trade. Its competition with Ubisoft was neither illicit nor disloyal.