Google, Apple Settle High-Tech Poaching Case

Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe Systems agreed to settle a class action lawsuit accusing them of a secret non-poaching agreement that would prevent their engineers and other top tech workers from getting better job offers at competing firms.

The agreement, announced in a letter to the court Thursday, was signed by the plaintiffs lawyers and an attorney for Google.  It said the parties would like to present the terms of the deal to U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh on May 27 for her consideration and approval.

The deal, affecting potentially 64,000 high tech workers, was reported to be $324 million, according to an account by Reuters.

The agreement comes just weeks before the case was set to begin trial before Koh in San Jose.

Disney-owned Pixar and Lucasfilm units, and Intuit had previously settled with Disney paying $9 million and Intuit $11 million.

The alleged conspiracy had included some of the top executives of Silicon Valley, including the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

The lawsuit accused the rival companies of conspiring to anti-poaching  deals that would keep them from stealing each others top technology staff in what was dubbed a no-cold call agreement.

The companies denied they engaged in a scheme to drive down wages with the deals.

The antitrust claims could have resulted in triple damages if the allegations had been proven at trial.

In 2010, the big four companies, Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe, settled a U.S. Justice Department investigation of the same issue by agreeing not to engage in no-hire pacts in the future.

Koh must approve the terms of the deal.

Case:  In re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-cv-2509


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