Apple, Google and more tech firms could pay up to $9bn to employees in anti-poaching class-action suit

By Peter Gothard
09 Apr 2014 View Comments

An ongoing anti-poaching class-action lawsuit filed by around 100,000 tech industry personnel against a number of top Silicon Valley firms is now thought to be worth around $9bn to those seeking recompense for lost earnings.

Companies mentioned in the lawsuit - which alleges that collusion took place as far back as 2005 to restrict hiring opportunities between the firms - include Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe.

Further reading

Late co-founder and CEO of Apple Steve Jobs is said to have threatened Google co-founder Sergey Brin with "war" if the web company attempted to headhunt staff from Apple.

Jobs is said to have sent similar communications to Palm, whose former CEO Edward Colligan in 2013 denied entering into an agreement over a "hands-off" list, saying such a thing would be "likely illegal".

An internal email from Brin to other Google staff reads, "So I got another irate call from Jobs today.

"I don't think we should let that determine our hiring strategy but I thought I would let you know. Basically, he said, ‘If you hire a single one of these people that means war'.

"I said I could not promise any outcome but I would discuss it with the executive team again."

Brin also suggests a "compromise" in Google's attempts to hire "essentially a whole team" from Apple, stating that he feels Google should not offer the rest of the team outside one individual new roles at his company "unless they get permission from Apple".

The suit is set to go to trial in San Jose in May, but many parties involved are already engaged in out-of-court settlements to further discuss the projected $9bn bounty.

The US Department of Justice already settled a suit with Apple, Adobe, Pixar, Intel, Intuit and Google in 2010 for similar anti-poaching accusations.

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