Unlikely bedfellows or co-conspirators against the working man? A judge says they must stand up in court for what they are being accused of having done. Google, Apple, and Intel have loads of former employees accusing them of colluding to keep wages down, through a choking of competition.
It is not only these three, either. Toss in Adobe, Pixar, Intuit, and Lucasfilm. Now you have the makings of a conspiracy theory, right? Not according to a U.S. Judge. A class action suit was opened against all of these companies for collaborating on riding themselves of competition, which ultimately eradicated mobility and limited the wages. How did these big guys do it? According to the suit, they agreed to refrain from poaching each others’ employees.
Apple is the linchpin and Steve Jobs is the villain, in this case. The plaintiffs claim there was a conspiracy between a network of companies that expressly agreed bilaterally to not snatch away each others’ staff. The common thread between these companies was that they were either under the control of Steve Jobs, or had at least one board member from Apple’s board of directors controlling or influencing decisions.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) charged these companies over the bilateral agreements to refrain from poaching the cream of the crop from their employees. Google, Pixar, Apple, Intel, Adobe, and Intuit settled. The results were quite clear. The DOJ stiffly warned them and forbade them from forging any such anti-competitive arrangements, especially regarding employees. This was part of the settlement with the DOJ.
Software engineers who worked at these firms, along with two employees of Adobe and three from Intuit, Intel, and Lucasfilm, have filed this class action suit, bravely against the giants. And the firms struck back. They requested the case be dismissed on the basis that there was no substantiation of the antitrust accusations.
The big picture conspiracy lacked indications of evidence in facts, which would go to support their claims that between all of these named companies there were agreements to suppress wages, so they claimed. They also swore that the accusation was implausible on the surface. What they do not say is what went on under the surface, in the dark deep.
Apple tried playing the shell game. They argued that even though there were individual agreements between pairs of companies, the fact that there was not a single agreement between all companies together, there was no collusion. Of course, the judge is not stupid and shot that down.
He retorted that even if the agreements were forged in secrecy (like in the dark reaches of Mordor), and were developed over a period of two years, this in fact amounted to collusion rather than coincidence. Apple obviously thinks lowly of the intelligence of the courts and is willing to try even the most see-through tactics to avoid prosecution. They have more time to think up even more ridiculous arguments, since the case will not be tried for at least another year. Though the courts are not stupid, they can be slow sometimes.