Judge Koh Questions Fairness of Apple, Google Anti-poaching Settlement

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Federal Court Judge Lucy Koh has reservations about approving the US$324.5 million settlement Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel have agreed to in a lawsuit accusing the companies of forming a pact to not hire away employees from each other. During a hearing on Thursday she said she wasn't sure the deal would be fair to the plaintiffs in the case, but didn't say she planned to deny the settlement.

Judge Koh questions Apple anti-poaching settlementJudge Koh questions Apple anti-poaching settlement

"I just have concerns about whether this is really fair to the class," Judge Koh said, according to Reuters.

Employees at several Silicon Valley tech companies filed a lawsuit claiming Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm all agreed to not poach employees from each other. The agreement, they said, kept salaries artificially low and limited their ability to find better jobs.

Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm previously agreed to a $20 million settlement, which was approved by Judge Koh. Had the case gone to trial the plaintiffs were asking for $3 billion.

Assuming Judge Koh approves the proposed settlement from Apple, Google, Adobe, and Intel, the plaintiffs will receive several thousand dollars each. One plaintiff, however, thinks the settlement lets the companies off too easy despite the fact that the other four companies struck a deal for far less.

Judge Koh is still reviewing the case, and while she does have concerns, hasn't said she intends to deny the settlement.

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]

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Assuming Judge Koh approves the settlement, the employees who said the anti-poaching pack artificially capped their pay will get their cut sooner than they would by going to trial. Even though at least one plaintiff isn't happy with the settlement amount, it's likely Judge Koh will ultimately approve the deal and bring an end to the case.

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Dorkus Maximus

Judge Koh repeatedly pushed Apple and Samsung to reach an out-of-court settlement to their patent infringement case. And now she’s saying she’s not happy with an out-of-court settlement independently pursued and achieved by both sides.

So out-of-court settlements are the way to go as long as she agrees with the outcome?

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