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Judge Won't Boot Wage-Fixing Suit Against Apple, Google

Posted: April 19, 2012
By: Bill Donahue
Source: Law360
Practice Areas: Antitrust, Employment Law

A California federal judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss accusations that the late Steve Jobs had orchestrated a series of uncompetitive agreements between Apple Inc., Google Inc., and other tech companies to not poach each other's engineers.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh flatly rejected the tech giants' argument that the proposed class action should be tossed because the engineers had failed to show that six bilateral agreements represented an "overarching conspiracy."

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"It strains credulity that Apple and Adobe reached an agreement in May 2005 that was identical to the ... agreement Pixar entered into with Lucasfilm in January 2005 without some communication or coordination between these two sets of defendants," the judge said. "The identical nature of the six secret bilateral agreements further supports the plausible inference that the agreements were negotiated, reached and policed at the highest levels of the defendant companies."

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"It is plausible to infer that even a single bilateral agreement would have the ripple effect of depressing the mobility and compensation of employees of companies that are not direct parties to the agreement," Judge Koh wrote.

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