Silicon Valley giants settle poaching case

April 24, 2014: 5:50 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Four big Silicon Valley tech companies reached a settlement on Thursday in a lawsuit that alleged they conspired not to poach employees from one another.

Kelly Dermody, a lawyer for the plaintiff's, called the deal "an excellent resolution." The settlement will now go before a judge for review.

The settlement was reached with Intel (INTC), Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL) and Adobe (ADBE). Three of the companies declined to give details; Apple didn't respond to requests for comment.

Adobe, in a statement, said it "strongly denies" that it did anything wrong in its recruiting policies. "Nevertheless, we have elected to settle this matter in order to avoid the uncertainties, cost and distraction of litigation," the company added.

Terms of the settlement will not be made public until the deal is presented to the court, according to Dermody. She said she anticipates that will happen by May 27, when a trial in the case was scheduled to begin.

The lawsuit, filed in 2011, accused tech companies of agreeing not to recruit employees from one another as a way to keep wages down, a scheme allegedly hatched by deceased former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

A judge granted the case class action status in October. The class involved more than 64,000 technical employees who worked at the companies between 2005 and 2009.

The lawsuit was originally filed against seven companies. Lucasfilm and Pixar, both owned now by Disney, agreed last year to pay $9 million to settle their portion of the case, while Intuit agreed to pay $11 million.

Separately, Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit and Pixar agreed in 2010 to settle a similar Justice Department lawsuit over what regulators said were anti-competitive hiring practices. The companies had been accused of violating antitrust law by agreeing not to poach each other's employees but did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement.

--CNNMoney's James O'Toole contributed to this report.


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