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Ubisoft Obtains Injunction Against THQ

by Matt Bertz on Mar 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Stinging from the exodus of Assassin's Creed creator Patrice Désilets and at least three other key employees to the newly formed THQ Montreal studio, Ubisoft has obtained an injunction that prevents Désilets' new company from recruiting additional developers from his former employer.

French website Rue Frontenac broke the story, which Ubisoft confirmed to us with this official statement:

Ubisoft has filed a request before the Superior Court of Québec for injunction orders against THQ Inc. in order to have them comply with the non-solicit clause included in Ubisoft Montreal’s employee work contracts. The Superior Court of Québec has granted the injunctions to the satisfaction of Ubisoft. This procedure aims to protect Ubisoft Montreal in a breach of contract situation, and to defend the long-term financial and creative health of the studio.

The talent flight began last May, when Patrice Désilets abruptly walked away from the company for undisclosed reasons. Rue Frontenac reports that Désilets was making a considerable salary at the time of his departure, having earned $1.3 million Canadian dollars over the last three years of his employment with Ubisoft. In resigning his position, he also left up to $600,000 in future bonuses on the table.

The following July, THQ announced its intentions to form a new studio in Montreal. After months of speculation that Désilets was taking the lead position at the new studio, in October THQ officially announced that he is taking control after his Ubisoft non-compete clause expires in May.

During the same time period, Assassin's Creed artistic director Alex Drouin, production manager Mark Besner, and associate producer Jean-Francois Boivin all unexpectedly resigned from Ubisoft, citing various reasons like the wish to spend more time with family. The three departures piqued Ubisoft's interest considering that all three held Montreal Canadians season tickets with Désilets.

Ubisoft's suspicions proved valid in January when THQ exec Danny Bilson told Joystiq that it had hired the three Ubisoft employees at the behest of Désilets."I don't think I can talk about the other three people we've already contracted because I wouldn't … I just know Patrice said, 'I need these three guys.' And I said 'Okay! Whatever you need!'" he said. "We put all of them on retention and got them started on their non-compete [clauses]. I kind of know what their roles are, but they were the most important people to Patrice. All three of them are Ubi."

In mentioning Désilets' involvement in the recruitment of these employees, Bilson essentially admitted that his new studio head was in breach of contract, as his non-compete clause prevented Désilets' from recruiting employees for one year after his departure. Ubisoft presented the case to Judge Marc de Wever, who issued an injunction against THQ and Patrice Désilets on January 26.

Despite the injunction, THQ's overtures to Ubisoft employees persisted. Less than a month later, Ubisoft discovered that another employee, Margherita Seconnino, was approached by former employee Adolfo Gomez-Urda to meet with the THQ localization department, offering a salary raise upwards of 60 percent.

Upon reviewing this information, the court awarded Ubisoft this latest injunction, which adds Gomez-Urda to the injunction along with Désilets and THQ.