A Washington state judge ruled today that Dr. Kai-Fu Lee can immediately begin working for Google. (There's a profile of Dr. Lee in today's San Francisco Chronicle.) We're thrilled, and he's excited to get right to work on several big things, including recruiting, building our Chinese R&D center, and related government relations.

You may remember that in July, right after we hired Dr. Lee to build and head our new China R&D center, Microsoft sued both of us. They argued that Dr. Lee was going to do work at Google that was competitive with what he had been doing at Microsoft - which they said would violate the one-year non-compete agreement that Microsoft requires employees to sign. (They sued even before knowing what Dr. Lee was going to be doing here. Hmmm...) At first, the judge in the case decided temporarily to limit what work Dr. Lee could do at Google until he learned more about the dispute.

But after listening to evidence at a two-day hearing last week and reviewing various documents and court briefs, the judge decided today in his ruling on Microsoft's request for a preliminary injunction to allow Dr. Lee to work on a much broader range of things for Google. There are some restrictions, but the ruling basically allows Dr. Lee to do what we've wanted him to be able to do. The judge said that Microsoft had "not sufficiently shown that it has a clear legal or equitable right to enjoin Dr. Lee, pending trial, from Establishing and Staffing a Google Development Facility Center." A trial is still set for January to get a final decision.

And we filed suit against Microsoft in California to stop them from enforcing a Washington state non-compete against an employee who wants to work for us in California and China. The first court hearing on that will be Oct. 14.

A lot of legal process, but the bottom line is Dr. Lee is going to get busy. Chinese speakers note: Dr. Lee has a website, and there's also a blog about this case.