$415M Settlement in Apple, Google Anti-poaching Case gets Preliminary OK

The US$415 million settlement Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe proposed in the employee anti-poaching lawsuit brought by Silicon Valley employees has a preliminary greenlight. Judge Lucy Koh chose not to deny the settlement amount and instead has scheduled a new hearing where it will likely get her official nod of approval.

Judge Koh receptive to Silicon Valley anti-poaching settlement proposalJudge Koh receptive to Silicon Valley anti-poaching settlement proposal

Judge Koh rejected an earlier $324.5 million settlement offer saying it was too low. She said the companies needed to come back with at least $405 million as an offer to be in line with an earlier settlement from Intuit and Walt Disney, who were also named in the suit.

The new $415 million mark seems to be fine with the plaintiffs and the court, which means Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe will most likely be able to avoid seeing their dirty laundry on display at trial. The companies were accused of conspiring to not hire away each other's employees ultimately putting an artificial cap on salaries.

Emails between company leaders, including Apple's Steve Jobs and Google's Eric Schmidt, supported the accusations, and seeing those emails along with other supporting evidence laid out in court would've no doubt been very embarrassing for all of the companies. They also faced billions of dollars in costs if the case went to trial.

With both sides of the legal fight on board with the settlement terms, it's now up to Judge Koh to decide whether or not to approve it. Considering the new offer comes in several million dollars above her suggestion—and that she set an approval hearing date—looks good for both sides. Silicon Valley workers who were blocked from getting better jobs will see some compensation, and the companies who agreed to the anti-poaching deal will avoid the embarrassment of seeing their email exchanges coming up in court.

[Thaks to Reuters for the heads up]