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Silicon Valley big four conspiracy case closed

A number of tech companies, accused conspiring to prevent their employees from switching jobs, agreed to settle the lawsuit with their tech workers.

A court in California approved the $415 million (£271m) settlement between tech workers and Intel, Google, Apple and Adobe Systems.

We have reported on the issue back in March, when the same amount was being mentioned. This time around, however, the sums to be paid to lawyers and the class representatives who had initiated the court action will be reduced, PC World reports.

The four companies were accused of conspiring not to hire each other’s employees to keep the wages low. Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar had previously settled with the workers for about $20 million (£13m).

Judge Lucy H. Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, described the settlement as fair, adequate, and reasonable."

The court was convinced, she continued, that the settlement was not the result "of fraud, overreaching, or collusion among the parties“, but instead was the product of long negotiations.

The court awarded the counsel a total of close to $41 million (£26.8m), which does not include the $5 million (£3.27m) in fees awarded in the settlements with Pixar, Lucasfilm and Intuit. The reduction in fees will increase the recovery by class members by $700 to about $5,770 (£3,778) per person.

The Judge has awarded $120,000 (£78,500) to Michael Devine, a former Adobe engineer, and $80,000 to each of the others.

Judge Koh had rejected the companies’ $324.5 million (£211 million) offer in August, saying the employees harmed by the no-poaching policy deserved more.

According to the PC World report, only 0.017 per cent of the class submitted objections to the settlement, and less than 0.09 percent have opted out of it.

The whole case started in 2011, when former employees filed a lawsuit saying Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar Animation Studios, together with the four companies named above, were carrying out an “interconnected web” of agreements between 2005 and 2009.

The agreements were not to hire each other’s employees in order to keep the wages down.

A court filing from 2012 had shown some e-mails between Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs and Google’s CEO at the time, Eric Schmidt, in which they talk about not hiring Apple’s engineers.