World and Nation

Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe settle hiring collusion suit

SAN FRANCISCO — Four major Silicon Valley companies, including Apple and Google, settled a high-profile suit Thursday over charges that they conspired not to hire one another’s workers, according to a court filing Thursday.

Technology employees filed a class-action lawsuit in 2011 against Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe, saying the tech companies violated federal antitrust laws by conspiring for several years to suppress the pay of employees by agreeing to not poach employees from one another.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but the plaintiffs had argued that the lost wages added up to $3 billion. Three smaller settlements with other defendants, including Lucasfilm, Pixar and Intuit, were reached last year for $20 million.

“This is an excellent resolution of the case that will benefit class members,” Kelly M. Dermody, a lawyer with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, the defendants’ legal team, said in a press release. “We look forward to presenting it to the Court and making the terms available.”

The lawsuit included 64,613 software engineers and accuses the companies of agreeing not to solicit one another’s employees in a scheme developed and enforced by Steve Jobs, then chief executive of Apple. A trial was set to begin in May.

The lawsuit exposed emails between Jobs and Google executives discussing their agreement.

In one exchange, Jobs emailed Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, “If you hire a single one of these people, that means war.”