Apple’s Cook, Google’s Schmidt and Intel’s Otellini to Be Questioned Over No-Poaching Pact
Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Intel CEO Paul Otellini will give depositions in the Silicon Valley no-poaching case, whether they like it or not.
During a Thursday hearing, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ordered the trio to submit separately to four hours of questioning over the unwritten pacts their companies allegedly entered into not to actively recruit one another’s employees. At issue here is a civil suit brought against Apple, Google, Intel and others that mirrors similar litigation brought by the U.S. Justice Department. The government case, which accused the three companies — along with Intuit, Pixar and Genentech — of collusive restraint of trade, was settled in 2010. But a civil case was subsequently brought against the players by a handful of employees who claim their income was unfairly reduced by the agreements. And Koh is currently considering whether or not to grant it class status.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs estimate that damages in the case could potentially rise as high as hundreds of millions of dollars, and they have some particularly juicy evidence with which to do battle. Among it, an email from Google’s recruiting department stating that “Google has an agreement with Apple that we will not cold call their staff,” and an email exchange between late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt over an apparent violation of that agreement. “I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this,” Jobs wrote to Schmidt on March 7, 2007. Schmidt’s response — this terse message to Google’s recruiting department: “I believe we have a policy of no recruiting from Apple and this is a direct inbound request. Can you get this stopped and let me know why this is happening? I will need to send a response back to Apple quickly so please let me know as soon as you can.”