Silicon Valley “no-poaching” case has new trial date; companies appeal rejection of earlier settlement

There’s a new trial date for the high-profile Silicon Valley lawsuit that accuses leading tech companies of violating antitrust rules by agreeing not to recruit each other’s employees.

But whether the case goes to trial is uncertain. The Mercury News’ Howard Mintz reports that lawyers for Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe have now appealed U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s decision to reject a $324.5 million settlement that the companies had negotiated with attorneys representing workers who brought the lawsuit.

The companies blasted Koh in their appeal, arguing the judge committed a “clear error” when she ruled that the proposed settlement fell short of “reasonableness” in a case where, Koh said, “there is ample evidence of an overarching conspiracy” among the companies.

As we reported last month, Koh suggested strongly in her ruling that the companies should pay more to settle the case, based on a previous settlement of similar allegations against three smaller companies – Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm. She also concluded that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, in particular, “was a, if not the, central figure in the alleged conspiracy.”

The judge has now scheduled a Jan. 12 date for trial, which promises to be a major spectacle if executives of the four big companies are required to testify. However, attorneys for both sides have also asked for more time, in a court filing that said they have resumed talks regarding a potential new settlement.

(AP Photo by Paul Sakuma shows the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2007)



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