Hewlett Packard’s Giovanni (John) Visentin, formerly of IBM, and an online, courtroom hero of mine.

Earlier this month, I wanted to mention that a former IBMer by the name of John Visentin was recently promoted at Hewlett Packard to something fairly big: head of enterprise services.

How I know about Visentin is that he is one side of the “v” in a Southern District of New York case, IBM v. Visentin, 11-cv-399, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15342, 2011 WL 672025, SDNY, 2/16/2011. I have written about this one previously, and am following the case. It’s interesting to me because of two things:

1) how IBM wrote a contract, and then tried to interpret it overbroadly, against Mr. Visentin’s interests; and

2) how quickly IBM got its day in court (a mere 2 weeks later), while that same company drags out responses for years, if they can.

Mr. Visentin had the right to leave IBM and work for another employer. It’s pretty clear that he had a lot of talent, and so the proper course of action for IBM was to pay him right, or ask for a non-compete deal that accurately reflected the situation between Mr. Visentin and the company.

This case is already being misinterpreted in the blogosphere, that somehow the Chief Judge, Loretta Preska, had “rewritten the contract” [sorry, “modified” the contract.] But, if you read the judge’s opinion, (linked above at the case cite,) she is clear what happened was that IBM wrote an overbroad contract, i.e. one that is illegal because it interfered with Mr. Visentin’s liberty interest, and is therefore void.

The real problem is that IBM wanted to make the contract “do” whatever IBM had in mind. You can bet that that is not the only IBM contract written that way.

Good luck and good fortune to Mr. Visentin, a guy who can now show HP the way.