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Judge rejects anti-poaching settlement offer

Judge rejects anti-poaching settlement offer

A judge has rejected a proposed settlement from Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel in an anti-poaching case that was claimed to have driven down salaries in the tech industry.

A multi-million dollar settlement offer in a major anti-poaching case involving the biggest names in technology has been rejected, leaving the firms involved to pony up more cash to their victims.

The case, involving Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe, hit the headlines in April when the companies offered $324 million to close the suit ahead of a court hearing. As part of the settlement, the companies did not admit any wrongdoing in the case which accused them of collaborating to prevent staff from moving between the firms - something that artificially drove down salaries in the technology sector, the case alleged. Although an impressive figure, the $324 million was a fraction of the $3 billion sought by the 64,000 complainants - a figure which could have been tripled if the companies were found to have breached antitrust laws.

If the amount had been accepted by the prosecution, the case would not have reached court. It was not, and Judge Lucy Koh has made a ruling: the sum of money offered was not sufficient. Reuters reports that Judge Koh cited emails sent between Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Google's Eric Schmidt as strong evidence of wrongdoing. The complainants might not be getting their hoped-for bumper payday, however: Judge Koh also stated that the plaintiffs will need to prove how the interference of the companies affected wages and come up with firm figures if they want to see increased damages. Rather than $3 billion, Judge Koh has suggested a payment of 'at least' $380 million would be appropriate.

Two other companies named in the case, Disney and Intuit, have already settled for $9 million and $11 million respectively. The court is due to reconvene on the 10th of September.

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