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Originally published Tuesday, November 29, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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T-Mobile fight with ex-COO not over

Eleven days after T-Mobile USA won a preliminary injunction prohibiting a former executive from working at a competitor, a court hearing...

Seattle Times technology reporter

Eleven days after T-Mobile USA won a preliminary injunction prohibiting a former executive from working at a competitor, a court hearing Monday left open the possibility the executive could work at the same company but in a different job.

The turn of events occurred during a King County Superior Court hearing originally scheduled to tie up loose ends, not open new windows.

The issues stem from an Oct. 24 lawsuit that Bellevue-based T-Mobile filed against Sue Swenson, its former chief operating officer. It contends Swenson violated non-compete agreements by taking the COO job at Amp'd Mobile, a new wireless company in Los Angeles.

Judge John Erlick ruled Nov. 17 that Swenson could not work at Amp'd, where she could use information she learned at T-Mobile — at least not until a trial could be held on the dispute.

Monday's hearing was to determine how much money Swenson would receive if she won at trial. The judge settled that by setting a bond at $1.7 million, based on Swenson's salary, bonus and signing bonus at Amp'd.

Swenson's attorney had asked for $13 million, which included an amount for stock options.

But Erlick also heard new arguments from the attorney saying Swenson should be allowed to work in Amp'd's international division, which would operate in Canada, Japan and Australia. Swenson was offered the international job after Amp'd terminated her following Erlick's ruling.

Until now, no information about that division had been disclosed. In fact, Amp'd has yet to begin offering service in the U.S.; that is expected by year end.

Without knowing how the international division would play a role at Amp'd, the judge said he could not decide immediately whether the job would be subject to the non-compete agreements. He scheduled a hearing for Dec. 16.

Given the new information, however, he said he would slightly alter his written statement outlining the preliminary injunction and file the revised statement this week.

The judge said he plans to write that Swenson is "enjoined from providing and offering services for Amp'd Mobile's business in the United States of America."

It was unclear if that meant Swenson could work for the international division before next month's hearing.

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Swenson has also filed a lawsuit against T-Mobile USA in San Diego claiming her non-compete clauses are invalid under California law.

Karl Quackenbush, T-Mobile's attorney, said the company plans to ask the judge in the California court to dismiss that case. A hearing is set for Jan. 9.

Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or tduryee@seattletimes.com

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