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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 22:47 GMT 23:47 UK
Google getting its Microsoft man
Visitors to a computer fair in Beijing
Google and Microsoft are targeting the giant Chinese marketplace
Google has been given legal clearance to hire a former Microsoft executive to head its Chinese research and development facility.

Microsoft had gone to court in the US to try to block the move, but a judge in Seattle has allowed Kai-Fu Lee to join Google with some limitations.

Ahead of a full trial next year, Mr Lee will not be able to recruit any former Microsoft colleagues.

Nor will he be able to work on projects he previously led at Microsoft.

Both sides claimed victory in what has been a bitter dispute between the two rival companies.

Chinese ambitions

"Dr Lee is going to be the highest-paid HR manager ever," said Tom Burt, Microsoft's vice president and deputy general counsel.

"He can't tell them [recruits] what to do, he can't direct them, he can't manage them."

Mr Lee said he was looking forward to getting back to work.

"The importance of this is that it allows me to do my job," said Mr Lee.

"Starting today, I'm going to walk into Google and start work."

Google and Microsoft are competing strongly to gain the best foothold in the giant Chinese marketplace.

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