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Antitrust Class Action Against Silicon Valley Tech Giants Might Reach Settlement

Major Antitrust Class Action Against Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe Reaches Settlement

In 2010, the United States Department of Justice revealed that four major players in Silicon Valley – Apple Inc, Google, Intel, and Adobe – all had secret deals not to hire each other’s engineers, or “prevent poaching,” which the employees viewed as employment discrimination that prevented them from potentially finding better jobs. Now, the antitrust class action lawsuit may reach a settlement agreement as early as January 15th.

Reportedly, major tech companies operating in Silicon Valley created a “gentlemen’s agreement” around 2005, which remained in place until about 2009, that created a “no call list” of current employees at each company to prevent their competition from poaching valuable engineers. Employees, however, viewed this as discrimination and violation of employment stipulations in antitrust laws, and filed a class action lawsuit.

The class action lawsuit has not officially gone to trial, but bitter former and current employees have threatened the four major California computer companies with an antitrust class action that would cost millions, of not the companies’ reputations with future employees. The four defendants have offered $415 million, which has been reported as acceptable to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. Now the judge must approve the class action settlement.

The lawsuit originally included Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm, but those companies offered an approved settlement for their part of the antitrust class action lawsuit for about $20 million.

This is the second attempt at a settlement in the antitrust litigation. Last spring, both sides agreed to $324.5 million, but with 64,000 class action plaintiffs and attorneys’ fees to consider, that would have amounted to only a few thousand per plaintiff – not enough to make up for possibly years of denied potential for a better job.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, rejected last year’s settlement, stating that the amount was too low for proposed damages, violation of antitrust laws, and employment discrimination. The four tech giants “would need to total at least $380 million,” Koh wrote.

One former Google engineer, Tom Leung, was so fed up with the anti-poaching agreement and its blatant violation of antitrust laws in the US, that he created a start-up called Poachable, where employees anonymously list their prices and criteria for leaving their current company. There are currently about 25,000 tech workers on the site, per Leung.

“Services like ours increase the liquidity and transparency of the employment market,” Mr. Leung said. “Power is going back to the talent, and a secret handshake between a few leaders is not going to stop it.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Antitrust Class Action Lawsuits

The Strom Law Firm LLC’s business litigation practice is focused on representing individuals, officers, directors, public companies, and private corporations involved in complex civil disputes.

We concentrate our resources and efforts on business and commercial litigation involving:

  • Breach of contract claims
  • Business fraud
  • Interference with business activities or unfair competition
  • Antitrust lawsuits/ price fixing allegations
  • Bank and lender liability
  • Insurance fraud and Securities Fraud
  • False Claims Act / “qui tam” whistleblower cases
  • Breach of warranty claims

When criminal charges arise, a South Carolina federal defense attorney at the Strom Law Firm, LLC will fight tirelessly to defend you against South Carolina antitrust violations. Founded in 1996 by a former US Attorney, we know what it takes to defend crimes not only on a state level, but also on a federal level as well. We are here to help you. Contact an experienced South Carolina federal antitrust defense attorney at the Strom Law Firm today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800



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