Qwest, AT&T Fight Over Executive

A spat between Qwest Communications International and AT&T over Qwest's right to employ a former AT&T executive went public on Sunday when Qwest announced it is taking the battle to court.

Qwest said in a statement it plans to sue AT&T in a U.S. District Court in Denver to confirm Qwest's right to employ Charles L. Ward, a former vice president of AT&T, as a Qwest vice president of policy and law.

Ward joined Qwest on July 1 and took responsibility for legislative and regulatory affairs in seven of the 14 Western U.S. states where Qwest offers local telephone service.

Just over two weeks after he started the job, on July 18, AT&T threatened to "sue Qwest and Ward on the grounds that Ward would disclose or rely upon confidential information or trade secrets that he acquired at AT&T," Qwest said. Further, AT&T demanded Ward refrain for working for one year in a legislative or regulatory capacity in any area where Qwest provides local telephone service, according to the statement.

Qwest said it will deny Ward has used, or plans to use, AT&T's confidential information or trade secrets for Qwest's advantage.

The filing comes after almost a week of talks between the two companies. Ward originally served AT&T with the complaint on August 1 but held off on filing it in court pending the outcome of the talks, said Qwest.

Qwest, in Denver, can be reached at +1-303-291-1400 or at http://www.qwest.com.

AT&T, based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, can be reached at +1-908-221-2000 or http://www.att.com/.

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