Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc (GOOG) and Others Settle Anti-Poaching Case for $324.5 Million

Silicon Valley technology giants, Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE), and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) finally settled the anti-poaching lawsuit filed by its employees for $324.5 million based on court records filed on Thursday.

There had been reports regarding the settlement and the proposed amount since last month, but there were no confirmation from the legal counsels of both parties. The employees of the technology giants originally demanded $3 billion citing the reason that it is an antitrust case.

The anti-poaching lawsuit was filed in behalf of 64,000 software and hardware engineers, programmers, web developers, animators, and other technical employees who alleged that Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) among others engaged in an “overarching conspiracy” to eliminate competition to maintain lower wages.

The employees alleged that the tech giants colluded to control wages in Silicon Valley from 2005 to 2009. Walt Disney Company’s (NYSE:DIS) Pixar and Lucas Film, the animation studio and visual-effects specialists, respectively and Intuit Inc (NASDAQ:INTU) settled a similar antitrust case filed by the United States Department of Justice for $20 million in 2010.

The settlement agreement still requires the approval of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. The lawyers in the case emphasized in their filing that the employees will receive a larger amount from the settlement compared with a similar complaint investigated by California Attorney General’s Office and did impose any penalty.

“While the [California Department of Justice] had the ability to seek civil fines, the DOJ settled their investigation regarding Defendants’ alleged misconduct without any monetary penalty,” according to the filing.

Joseph Saveri, an attorney representing the employees that filed the case against the tech giants said, “This is a significant amount of money.”

Last March, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) revealed that she declined the request of two senior executives of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) to limit the social network giant’s recruitment of employees from the search engine giant in 2008.

“I declined at that time to limit Facebook’s recruitment or hiring of Google employees. Nor have I made or authorized any such agreement between Facebook and Google since that time,” said Sandberg.

The reluctance of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to limit its hiring practices seemed one of the reasons for the anti-poaching agreements between the technology companies to falter.