Google, Apple Set New Deal on Anti-Poaching Suit

A new settlement agreement has been reached between Google Inc, Apple Inc, Intel Corp and Adobe Systems Inc and a class of software engineers who say they lost money because the firms allegedly agreed not to poach each other’s talent.

Any agreement is subject to approval by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who previously rejected a $324 million settlement as too low, given an earlier settlement by smaller firms, including Pixar, Lucasfilm and Intuit.

In a one-paragraph letter posted late Tuesday, lawyer Donald Falk told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that parties had reached a new settlement, which could affect a pending appeal challenging Koh’s rejection of the first deal.

The letter did not indicate the potential settlement amount but the New York Times reported the new class-action antitrust deal would pay $415 million, well above the $380 million Koh estimated might be acceptable.

Roughly 64,000 software engineers would be affected.  The class action alleged that the companies began in 2005 to keep their top engineers by agreeing not to make cold calls to competitors’ engineers to offer jobs.

After the first settlement deal, Michael Devine, one of the plaintiffs criticized it saying it would not deter the companies from engaging in the same conduct again.  Koh sided with Devine and rejected that settlement in August.

The new deal has not been filed with Koh yet, who must ultimately approve or reject it.

Case:  In re Adobe Systems Inc v. US District Court, (Hariharan), No. 14-72745



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