Partial Deal in High-Tech Wage Case

Pixar and Lucasfilm have settled with a five software engineers  in a suit claiming Silicon Valley’s top tech firms conspired to avoid bidding wars over top software techs in violation of antitrust law.

The partial resolution of the long-running class action was announced Sunday in an order by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose.  Details of the settlement terms were not disclosed.

Remaining in the case are Apple Inc., Google, Intel and Intuit.  Koh asked both sides to file papers later this month on how the partial settlement may affect the plaintiffs’ efforts to will class action certification to cover a potential class of 100,000 tech engineers.

The lawsuit alleged company executives, including Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs, sought to avoid driving up wages by allegedly structuring agreements to apply to all employees, regardless of job department or location.

The engineers claimed this violated antitrust law.

The behavior drew the attention of the U.S. Antitrust Division and from 2009 to 2010 it looked into the claims and concluded the defendants reached “facially anticompetitive” agreements.

The parties in the Justice Department case did not admit wrongdoing but agreed to an injunction against entered into such agreements in the future.  (U.S. v. Lucasfilm, Inc., 10-2220)

Both sides must file briefs explaining the impact of the partial settlements by July 26 and she set August 8 for a revised class certification hearing.

Case:  Hi-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-cv-2509LHK