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Business, as usual….

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Today, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ended antitrust claims against Apple, Adobe Systems, Google and Intel over allegations that they entered into secret agreements not to raid each others’ workforces. The a $415 million settlement ends a five-year legal battle over alleged illegal hiring practices in Silicon Valley. According to the San Jose Mercury News:

The deal avoided a trial that could have exposed embarrassing allegations that CEOs of those valley powers, including late Apple leader Steve Jobs and then Google CEO Eric Schmidt, agreed in emails and other correspondence not to poach from rivals.

The estimated 64,000 tech workers covered by the claims were notified of the settlement terms during the summer, prompting some to object. But Koh determined the opposition — just 11 class members — amounted to a small percentage of the class action, and that the benefits of the deal, including avoiding the risk and expense of a trial, outweighed any concerns. The overall settlement provides payouts of about $5,000 per employee.

“The outcome at trial was uncertain, providing additional risks to both sides,” the judge wrote.
Koh previously rejected a $324 million settlement, calling it inadequate, prompting the companies to dig deeper to increase the final amount needed to resolve the legal battle. The judge’s main concern with the final settlement centered on fees for the employees’ lawyers — she slashed their original $81 million request in about half in her final order.
The class action suit alleged that refusal to recruit and hire each others’ workers stifled wages and mobility. “Evidence included a trove of internal documents and emails, including alleged missives between Jobs and Schmidt discussing the agreements.” The companies involved have denied all wrongdoing and said that they settled to avoid the risks of a trial. :-)
Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm previously settled their part of the case for $20 million. All of the companies settled another antitrust case, based on the same allegations, with the U.S. Justice Department.
This was the “kind and gentle” world that I inhabited in high tech. This was (and IS) “business as usual” in Silicon Valley.
-Bill at

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