Former EMC executive David Donatelli has been cleared by a Massachusetts court to work for Hewlett-Packard, but must avoid storage technology development because a non-compete clause requires him to steer clear of that area for a year.

Donatelli, who was president of the EMC Storage Division, left the company abruptly late last month to become the HP executive vice president for enterprise servers, storage and networking.

HP said today that because of the court order, Donatelli will now serve as executive vice president of Enterprise Servers and Networking.

"Due to certain restrictions in the court's most recent order, Dave Roberson, senior vice president and general manager of the StorageWorks division, will report directly to Ann Livermore, executive vice president of the Technology Solutions Group at HP, until the order is lifted," HP said in a statement.

Earlier this month a court in Massachusetts issued a temporary injunction banning Donatelli from working at HP until EMC and HP resolved a legal dispute over the terms of a non-compete clause Donatelli signed with EMC.

The suit was filed by EMC in late April after Donatelli filed one of his own on April 27 in a California court asking it to negate his employee agreement, which states that he cannot work for a competitor for 12 months after leaving EMC. Unlike Massachusetts, California generally doesn't recognise noncompete clauses.

Donatelli, who lives in Massachusetts, maintained that "only 20 ;er cent of his job overlaps with his previous EMC job duties," while the majority of his work will center on servers and networking equipment. Donatelli's attorney argued at a court hearing in Massachusetts earlier this month that his client should be allowed to move to California and thereby escape the obligations of the covenant, the court ruling stated.

The California court has yet to rule on the matter.

HP said in a statement it is "pleased with the court's recent decision and looks forward to the contributions Donatelli will make to HP's business."