Court orders THQ to stop poaching Ubisoft talent

By Xav de Matos, Mar 30, 2011 7:00pm PDT

According to French website Rue Frontenac, Ubisoft has been granted an injunction order against THQ from the Superior Court of Quebec forcing the company to comply with the "non-solicit clause" included in Ubisoft Montreal's work contracts. In short, the injunction will halt poaching of talent from Ubisoft's Montreal studio, Game Informer confirmed with Ubisoft.

Last year, THQ revealed it would open a Montreal studio to help develop a number of titles under its "Core Games" banner. As part of the studio's introduction to the world, THQ revealed it would hire former Ubisoft producer Patrice Désilets to lead the new studio.

According to the Rue Frontenac report, when Désilets abruptly walked away from Ubisoft Montreal last May, he had earned $1.3 million dollars (CND) over the last three years of his employment and left $600,000 in future bonuses on the table.

Though THQ has already made a point to name Désilets the head-honcho at its new Montreal studio, Désilets will not be eligible to work for the company until his non-compete clause with Ubisoft expires this May (one year following his exit from Ubisoft).

During the same period THQ announced its new studio, Assassin's Creed artistic director Alex Drouin, production manager Mark Besner, and associate producer Jean-Francois Boivin resigned at Ubisoft, citing various reasons.

In early January--following THQ's logo refresh--THQ Core Games boss Danny Bilson revealed his company had hired three additional employees, formerly of Ubisoft's talent pool.

According to an interview with Joystiq, Bilson noted that the three new hires were at the behest of Désilets, who said he needed to add to his team at THQ Montreal. Bilson told Joystiq: "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."

The report notes that Désilets, Besner, Drouin, and Boivin share season tickets at the Bell Centre (where the Montreal Canadiens play), which caught the attention Ubisoft, coupled with the abrupt nature of their respective exits.

It would appear that Bilson's admission that Désilets was involved in the recruitment process of former Ubisoft employees puts the former Assassin's Creed producer in breach of his ongoing non-compete clause.

Ubisoft reportedly presented its case to Judge Marc de Wever and was granted an injunction against both THQ and Désilets in late January; however, Ubisoft states that another employee--Margherita Seconnino--was approached by former employee Adolfo Gomez-Urda to meet with the THQ localization department. According to the report, Seconnino was offered a salary raise bump upwards of 60 per cent.

The newest injunction awarded to Ubisoft adds Gomez-Urda to the list alongside THQ and Désilets to help "protect Ubisoft Montreal in a breach of contract situation, and to defend the long-term financial and creative health of the studio," according to Ubisoft's statement to Game Informer.

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