Apple Working on Settlement with A123 after Hiring Battery Employees

A new court filing revealed Apple is working on reaching an out of court settlement with A123 Systems after getting hit with a lawsuit for hiring away key vehicle battery employees. Apple requested an extension on Tuesday for its response to A123's lawsuit saying it is exploring a potential resolution with the company.

Apple working on settlement with A123 Systems over hiring key employees awayApple working on settlement with A123 Systems over hiring key employees away

A123 Systems filed its lawsuit in February over claims that its former employees and Apple violated non-compete contracts. The lawsuit also claimed Apple was in a position to violate the non-disclosure contracts those employees signed by using their knowledge in its own product designs.

Apple hired away five key employees from A123 who all worked on advanced battery technology, including CFO Mujeeb Ijaz. The employees were directly involved in several critical projects that had to be shut down once they were gone because there wasn't anyone with their expertise to take over.

A123 also said Apple has hired employees from other companies that have direct ties to its battery technology such as SiNode Systems, Samsung, Toshiba, LG, and Panasonic. The hires help back up reports of Apple's plans to design its own electric car because the new employees all have experience in vehicle batteries.

The company is asking the court to block its former employees from working for Apple for at least a year, to stop the iPhone and iPad maker from hiring any more of its staff, and for damages and legal fees.

The lawsuit is likely something Apple anticipated and has been waiting for A123's lawsuit to start negotiations. It sounds like those talks are already underway, which means A123 is open to finding an out of court settlement. If so, Apple will most likely be able to buy its way out of the lawsuit and keep its new car battery experts on the job.

[Thanks to Reuters for the heads up]