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Setback for IBM in bid to block Dell hire

A court denies IBM's request for an injunction against Dell's hire of its former acquisitions chief.

IBM on Friday was denied an injunction that would have kept its former acquisitions chief from taking a job at Dell, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

IBM sued David Johnson out of concern that working at Dell would cause him to divulge IBM trade secrets. Johnson worked for 27 years at IBM, most recently as vice president of corporate development, responsible for overseeing mergers and acquisitions.

IBM plans to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Robinson's ruling, according to the story. In his ruling, Robinson said while "IBM will undoubtedly suffer harm absent an injunctive order" because of Johnson's inside knowledge of IBM's business, the harm wasn't "decidedly greater" than the harm to Johnson if he couldn't pursue work because of a non-compete agreement.

Johnson maintains that he didn't properly sign the most recent agreement. Though he has begun work at Dell, he's not working on mergers and acquisitions. According to a court filing, Johnson signed a statement saying he would "limit work at Dell Inc. to learning about its businesses, including its strategies, products, operations and personnel."