Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe settle antitrust hiring case for $324 million

“Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG), Intel Corp. (INTC), and Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) agreed to pay $324 million to settle a lawsuit on behalf of more than 64,000 technical employees who claimed their incomes were held down by the companies’ agreements not to recruit one another’s workers, a person familiar with the matter said,” Joel Rosenblatt reports for Bloomberg. “Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed in a court filing by lawyers on both sides announcing their settlement. They said they planned to present the accord for a judge’s consideration by May 27. The person who disclosed the amount asked not to be named because the information is confidential.”

“If the Silicon Valley-based technology firms hadn’t settled, they would have faced a trial in federal court in San Jose, California, with a demand for as much as $3 billion in damages. Under federal antitrust law, damages won at trial could be tripled,” Rosenblatt reports. “Evidence in the case included blunt exchanges in e-mails about no-hire arrangements among executives including Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and then-Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt. Some of the e-mails surfaced in a similar lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department that the companies settled in 2010 by agreeing to curtail anti-competitive practices. Unlike that case, in which no fines were paid, the employees’ lawsuit was focused on monetary damages.”

“Among the e-mails cited as proof of collusion was one from Schmidt to Jobs in 2007 explaining Google’s terminating ‘within the hour’ a recruiter who contacted an Apple employee in violation of the companies’ ‘do not call policy.’ Jobs responded to the message with a smiling emoticon,” Rosenblatt reports. “‘Apologies again on this and I’m including a portion of the e-mail I received from our head of recruiting,’ Schmidt, who was then an Apple board member, wrote to Jobs. ‘Should this ever happen again please let me know immediately and we will handle. Thanks!! Eric.'”

Read more in the full article here.

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A whiff of settlement in Silicon Valley anti-poaching case – March 28, 2014
Steve Jobs wasn’t okay with Google hiring even former Apple engineers – March 27, 2014
Judge Koh: 60,000 Silicon Valley workers may pursue collusion case against Apple, Google, others as group – January 14, 2014
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Court filing: Steve Jobs told Google’s Schmidt to stop poaching workers – January 27, 2012
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15 Comments

    1. minus the fees, they might see $3,000 each. They’d have done better individually going to small claims court, let alone filing a larger suit.

  1. I have clauses in my employee’s contracts to prevent them from jumping ship to a competitor, but I have never negotiated an agreement with one.

    If it went to trial, I wonder if a win by the plaintiff would make these clauses illegal or more difficult to enforce?

    Just wondering out loud.

  2. Like. In comparison to the potential outcome.

    It would seem to me, settling the eBook case would have been prudent. However it’s nice to be right, if you get to be right. Sometimes you don’t get the privilege, because in these kinds of cases, you are guilty until proven innocent.

  3. Punish the many so that the few who do divulge corporate IP can continue to do so with impunity. This no raid policy has been widespread and ongoing for decades, and not just with the litigants in this case.

  4. This commercial reminds me of a classic PR sales letter I read about. It was written, if I remember correctly, by advertising genius David Ogilvy for Mercedes Benz back in the late fifties or early sixties.

    Mercedes was ready to pull out of the American marketplace due to poor sales. In the letter, he took every negative about a Mercedes auto (diesel engine, noisy, etc.) and spun it into a positive. The success of that letter kept Mercedes in the American auto market.

    It was a serious piece for the time, but is extremely funny when the creative writing technique is analyzed.

    Unlike this commercial, which is funny… but severely lacking when analyzed.

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