Judge Koh tells of Silicon Valley’s ‘fear’ of Steve Jobs

“A US judge on Friday offered a behind-the-scenes look at the force of will with which Steve Jobs once held sway over Silicon Valley, as she threw out a proposed settlement of a lawsuit against Apple and three other tech companies,” Richard Waters reports for The Financial Times. “‘There is compelling evidence that Steve Jobs… was a, if not the, central figure in the alleged conspiracy,’ Judge Lucy Koh wrote as she rejected a $324.5m settlement.”

“In all, seven tech companies have faced charges that they agreed not to poach each others’ workers, though three of them have already settled,” Waters reports. “According to Judge Koh, the series of secret pacts began when Mr Jobs reached a no-poaching deal for Pixar, the animation studio he controlled, with George Lucas, head of Lucasfilm. That became the model for agreements with other companies, with ‘fear of and deference to’ Mr Jobs a big reason for the willingness of others to join in the alleged conspiracy, the judge added.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Judge Lucy Koh shoots down Apple, Google, Intel wage cartel settlement – August 11, 2014
Judge Koh says she’s concerned about Apple, Google anti-poaching settlement – June 20, 2014
Plaintiff blasts Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel settlement deal in Silicon Valley poaching case – May 12, 2014
Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe settle antitrust hiring case for $324 million – April 24, 2014
Apple, Google, other firms could pay ‘blindingly high’ $9 billion in anti-poaching suit – April 8, 2014
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
Steve Jobs threatened patent suit to enforce no-hire policy, according to court filing – January 23, 2013
Judge Koh orders Apple CEO Tim Cook to four hours of questioning in anti-poaching case – January 17, 2013
Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm fail to get staff-poaching antitrust lawsuit dismissed – April 19, 2012
Court filing: Steve Jobs told Google’s Schmidt to stop poaching workers – January 27, 2012
Did Apple CEO Steve Jobs ask Palm’s Colligan to collude? – August 20, 2009
Did Apple and Google make an anti-poaching deal? – August 9, 2009


    1. There’s a very appropriate response to her statement:

      “I Object, your honor…Hearsay!”

      Was she there? No.

      Very convenient of her to blame it on a guy who can’t defend himself. Makes it easier to justify her persecution of Apple.

      Note for clarity: That was “persecution,” by the way…not “prosecution.”

      Someone needs to inform Judge Lucy Koh that NEITHER of those words describes her job. The DA prosecutes, not the judge, and neither one should persecute. She is trying to do both.

      I will wonder aloud once again…has anyone looked into how many of South Korean Judge Koh’s relatives have really good jobs with Samsung “back home?”

  1. One more point to see she is BIASED, this kind of agreements were created all the time then, I do not support it, and this lawsuits with bif companies will trigger many others to stop using them, but thus “JUDGE” makes it look like STEVE created them and forced them on the others because of fear.
    Judges should sit on the side and place objective resolutions, not push thier subjective agenda to the public

    1. I think she’s a total hack and should not be assigned Apple cases, but this is not evidence of bias. It would be bias if she held these opinions before hearing evidence. After hearing judgement, it’s not bias but judgment. And that’s her job. Judging.

      Now whether or not her judgment is completely flawed, that’s another question. 🙂

      1. But the thing is…as shown in ruling after ruling after ruling (each with a flawed and highly questionable basis), she IS biased.

        This pattern of endless incompetency that you’re seeing can only be explained by bias. I can’t imagine her being this consistently incompetent in always ruling against Apple, with absurd “reasoning”.

        I’m seeing a pattern, and that pattern shows clear bias.

  2. Interesting. That Judge Dredd, er, uh, Koh disclosed something such as this could be used in an appeal to invalidate her decisions. The reason: this piece could be used to show prejudice by Koh against Apple.

    We will see.

    1. I’ve never ever heard of a judgment being reversed because the judge said unkind things about the defendant while explaining why she found him guilty. Making decisions and writing opinions to justify them is what judges do in any society I’m aware of. That is not to say that the opinions and decisions are always correct. That’s why we have appellate courts–to read the trial record and decide if the judge got it right.

      Apparently, a lot of people here are uncomfortable with allowing the American judicial system to do what any society must do: assess competing claims and settle disputes. That process inevitably has both winners who agree with the decisionmaker’s judgment and her reasoning and losers who disagree.

      What do you suggest as an alternative to letting courts be the decisionmakers in American society? The Ulema, Vatican, or some other religious authority? The strongest of several competing militias? An all-powerful Party (Democratic, Republican, Tea, Communist, Baathist, etc.) that can apply its standards of political correctness? The court system isn’t perfect, but it seems preferable to those alternatives.

      1. The problem is that she is making statements on *inferred* information, not on the facts presented in the case. She is extrapolating as to who was a ringleader and who was instigating deals and who was enforcing them. None of this was presented as factual evidence in the case.

        A judge is supposed to rule on the facts presented. A judge is NOT supposed to go on wild extrapolations and guesses and then rule based upon those. A judge is not supposed to spout of on what she *believes* to be that situation independent of facts presented. Cases have been reversed upon appeal for less.

        1. I have no idea whether this was a correct decision or not. I did not read the entire trial record (as the judge almost certainly did, and as the commenters here almost certainly did not). As I understand it, most of the facts were agreed by both parties. The issue was whether those facts created liability. However, even without reading the record, I do have a pretty good idea of how the legal system is supposed to work. This is not a remotely unusual case, except that our ox (Apple) happened to be the one being gored. I don’t like that any more than you do, but that doesn’t blind me to facts.

          As for *inference*, what, exactly, do you think that judges and juries do? People do not videotape themselves engaging in a conspiracy in restraint of free trade, and they rarely admit that that is what they did. Rather, they leave clues behind which the judge or jury are asked to evaluate for meaning. They hear evidence, usually contradictory evidence, make decisions about which witnesses to believe and how much weight to give to each of their statements, and then use logical inference to reach conclusions about the ultimate issues of fact in the case.

      2. TxUser: Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who oversaw the Microsoft monopoly trial, was a severe loudmouth and compromised the trial’s outcome.


        The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Jackson’s rulings against Microsoft. This was partly because the Appellate court had adopted a “drastically altered scope of liability” under which the Remedies could be taken, and also partly due to the embargoed interviews Judge Jackson had given to the news media while he was still hearing the case, in violation of the Code of Conduct for US Judges. Judge Jackson did not attend the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hearing, in which the appeals court judges accused him of unethical conduct and determined he should have recused himself from the case.

        1. That judge made statements out of court directly to the media prior to the public release of the opinion (embargoed until after that event). Those statements badmouthing one of the parties suggested a personal agenda that went beyond any legitimate judicial purpose.

          The statements about Steve Jobs were contained in a court order as part of the explanation of why the judge was rejecting a proposed settlement. To repeat, I doubt that any decision has ever been reversed just because the judge criticized the actions of the losing party while officially explaining why they lost. If the judge didn’t believe they were guilty, she wouldn’t have found them guilty.

          It has been illegal since the days of Teddy Roosevelt to engage in a combination to restrict free trade. If that is what Apple and its codefendants did-and they have pretty much admitted it and blamed it on prior management-they should fairly compensate the victims.

        2. Certainly, AFTER a decision, a judge is free to speak about their trial. If, however, they demonstrate clear bias or a conflict of interest affected their decision, the loser has dynamite to use for an appeal.

          I don’t know if ‘free trade’ has anything to do with this case. Whether anti-poaching agreements are lawful is beyond my knowledge. I would expect Koh based her decision on the law. But she went prattling on about rubbish hearsay and mythology, which obviously brings her sense of justice and fairness into question. Such rubbish has no place in a legal document.

          This month I keep running across remarkable examples of unprofessionalism. It’s no surprise that Koh would be yet-another culprit.

  3. What Judge Koh described, isn’t that called competition, a respectable reputation, and hard work to get to such a level in the business world?
    Amazing that the judge can think like that. She might need a vacation to rest her brain.

    1. But but but I did not compare the shrub to anyone….ooooh so that’s maybe why he’s rolling in the grave.

      I’ll try to do better next time, honest. Goodness knows there is a lot of material to work with.

  4. as another article has it:
    “No-solicitation agreements revealed during the lawsuit dated back to 2005, involving Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar, among others. ”

    that’s before iPhone, iPad etc when Apple was significantly smaller and less powerful. All these giant companies are afraid of Jobs?

    Apple haters like to tell us Msft PCs make up 90% marketshare and it’s mostly Intel that powers them, so Intel is afraid of 5% marketshare company? Adobe had a publicly announced PC first policy at that time wanting to chase PC marketshare delaying 64 bit photoshop etc for years (CS4 64 bit windows, 32 bit mac, Adobe saying Cocoa was too much work) , they were hardly afraid of Jobs.

    WEIRD that Google was afraid when it wasn’t even AFRAID to STEAL iPhone secrets from Jobs!!!

    I’m not saying no-poaching is correct but Kohs’ comments are too much.
    Now we have a better idea why judgements on the Samsung Apple cases are so weird (she cuts jury awards, refuses banning of infringing products etc) , it’s because she has a personal bias against Jobs.

    1. “…it’s because she has a personal bias against Jobs.”

      BINGO! Get that man a cigar! The truth is finally becoming obvious. Now the only question is who is paying her.

  5. She’s jealous that Steve Jobs had more real power in Silicon Valley than herself, who can’t even apply the LAW against a proven copycat like Samsung.

    Well Judge Koh he earnt ithat respect with real innovation that touches a billion lives, not reading some books in law school and pushing some papers around.

  6. The under-pinnings of the dynamism of the US economy are “free and flexible” labor markets. Don’t take it personally: in this case, Steve Jobs was just plain *wrong*. Of course, being Steve Jobs, he was right, in spite of the fact that he was wrong. =) Laws are, (un)fortunately, made for “mere mortals.” But that’s a different story altogether. Judge Koh is just doing her job.

    1. Her job doesn’t include making comments re individuals who didn’t get a chance to give their own testimony in court.

      Maybe the scheme became widely adopted not because the whole of Silicon Valley feared Jobs (and feared what, Jobs shouting at them?) but because it was so damn convenient so they copied it like everything else Apple does.

      Now it’s easy to make it seem like Jobs was the single mastermind of it all.

  7. As much as I love Steve Jobs, this really was a dick move (and illegal), which hurt developers working for all these companies. Apple should pay through the nose on this one, and use fair compensation to keep developers, not back room deals and blacklists.

    1. Apple — and ALL the other responsible parties — should pay a reasonable amount for these actions. They should *NOT* “pay through the nose on this one”. The requested amounts by the plaintiffs — even if you look at the “future value of money” over the course of an employee’s career are way too high.

      Besides, if the settlement value gets increased, who really makes the largest single chunk of the settlement? The lawyers. The actual employees will get a small amount. Sure, the judge *could* limit the lawyers’ take, but she won’t.

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