Lawsuit against Apple, Google & others for ‘Do not hire’ agreements ends as settlement deal finalized
A class action lawsuit against Apple, Google and other tech companies for agreeing not to poach each other’s employees has finally been settled. Steve Jobs, Google’s Eric Schmidt and others had agreed in emails not to offer higher salaries to each other’s employees in order to reduce the risk of losing valuable employees. When the emails came to light, the 64,000 employees affected successfully argued that this had limited their earning potential.
After Apple’s originally settlement offers were rejected by Judge Lucy Koh as inadequate, the company increased its offer to $415M, which the judge agreed was fair. Reuters reports that Koh has now granted final approval of this sum.
Koh did, however, reject the $81M cut the lawyers in the case had demanded …
A rough date has been set for round five of the battle over Samsung’s infringements of Apple patents in five of its products. The Recorder reports that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has said that the revised damages will be determined by a jury trial in March or April 2016.
In case you need a refresher, the story so far is this. In round 1, the first jury trial, Apple was awarded $1B in damages. In round 2, Judge Koh vacated $450M of that award and ordered a retrial to determine a revised sum. Round 3 was that jury trial, with Apple awarded a lower sum of $290M – making a revised total of $930M. In round 4, the US appeals court ruled that while Samsung did indeed copy iOS features, it should not have been penalised for copying the general look of the iPhone, and therefore the damages should be reduced. The new trial, to revise those damages, will be round 5.
Unless, that is, the Supreme Court intervenes …
The anti-poaching case rumbles on … After an antitrust class-action suit last year accused Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe of secretly agreeing not to poach staff from each other, the case appeared to be all over back in April when the parties reached a $324M settlement.
Settlements have to be signed-off by a court, however, to ensure that it is considered fair to all parties. Earlier this month, Judge Lucy Koh rejected the settlement, saying the amount should have been $380M.
Two days ago, the parties resumed settlement talks with the help of a retired judge, but it appears these are not going well: Reuters now reports that Apple and Google has asked an appeals court to overturn Judge Koh’s decision.
In a court filing late on Thursday, the companies asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overrule Koh’s decision.
Koh “committed clear legal error” and “impermissibly substituted the court’s assessment of the value of the case for that of the parties who have been litigating the case for more than three years,” they wrote.
Judge Koh had earlier said that Steve Jobs “was a, if not the, central figure in the alleged conspiracy.”
Future patent battles between Apple and Samsung could take an entertaining turn as Apple has been granted a patent on radial menus for touchscreen devices – using an illustration that bears a notable resemblance to the Air Command menu used by Samsung on the Galaxy Note 3.
Lest anyone accuse Apple of copying Samsung, Apple first patented the menu approach back in 2012 – a year before Samsung adopted it. The reason for the second patent granted today is that Apple seemingly had in mind OS X rather than iOS when it first came up with the idea, illustrating it in a desktop environment.
The second patent specifically references using the menu based on “input from a touchscreen.”
As ever, the fact that Apple has patented something provides no evidence at all that it will ever see the light of day in an Apple product – OS X or iOS. Apple plays around with all kinds of ideas and patents thousands of them, only a tiny minority of which are ever used.
With Apple possessing a patent for a particular menu approach used by Samsung, but patenting touchscreen application of the approach after Samsung launched it in a tablet, the legal arguments could get interesting should the matter ever end up in court …
I know, your eyes are probably glazing over by now at yet another Apple v. Samsung patent story. It seems scarcely a week goes by without one of the two companies winning a point, losing a point, filing an appeal, winning an appeal, losing an appeal or applying for some kind of court order. And if you were losing count, the latest news reported by FOSS Patents that a California court has rejected Apple’s application for an injunction against Samsung still relates to the original patent battle between the two companies which began back in 2011.
Apple was originally awarded almost a billion dollars in damages for patent infringements by Samsung. Apple had argued that monetary damages were insufficient, and that the court should also have ordered that the infringing products be withdrawn from sale …
FOSS Patents is reporting that Apple received two more favourable rulings in their ongoing battle against Samsung in the courts. These judgements increase the chance of Apple winning the March patent trial “not hugely but significantly”, according to Mueller.
In a judgement filed yesterday, Samsung was found to infringe on one of Apple’s asserted patents and one of its own patents in the case was invalidated.
Judge formally dismisses user privacy lawsuit regarding location services and App Store data collection policy
As the retrial to settle the damages in the Apple vs Samsung patents case reaches its closing arguments, Samsung’s lawyer Bill Price accused Apple attorney Harold McElhinny of a racist remark, asking for a mistrial to be declared, reports Bloomberg.
Harold McElhinny, Apple’s attorney, spoke yesterday of his memory as a child of watching television on American-made sets, and how because the manufacturers didn’t protect their intellectual property their products no longer exist. “We all know what happened,” he said at the conclusion of a damages retrial […]
McElhinny was “appealing to race,” Price told the judge. “I thought we were past that.” …
After a judge in March invalidated almost half of the $1B verdict Apple won in its patent infringement case against Samsung in August of 2012, another trial would have to take place to determine how much Samsung would actually owe. It still owes Apple the other approximately $600 million in damages pending an appeal, but today the two companies are in court for a retrial to determine how much of the other roughly $400 million in damages Samsung will be responsible for. CNET reports that Apple’s attorney today told the court it wants $380 million in damages from Samsung, slightly less than the original $410 million in vacated damages:
“We will hear a lot from Samsung, saying no one would have purchased Apple products,” McElhinny said. “But in its heart, Samsung knew it was a two-horse race.”
He pointed to an internal Samsung document as “conclusive evidence Apple lost sales because of Samsung.”
“In a fair fight, that money should have gone to Apple,” McElhinny said.
The $380 million number comes from Apple’s calculations of around $114 million in lost profits, $231 in Samsung’s profits, and $35 million in royalties. Apple says Samsung made around $3.5 billion revenue selling 10.7 million infringing devices.
A report from FossPatents today (via MacRumors), covering a Samsung filing with U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, shows the United States Patent and Trademark Office has declared 20 claims related to Apple’s rubber-banding patent invalid. One of the claims was even used against Samsung as part of Apple’s $1 billion victory in a California court in August:
While this non-final decision is not binding, there is a possibility that Judge Koh will be persuaded by this to grant Samsung’s Rule 50 (“overrule-the-jury”) motion to the extent it relates to the ‘381 patent. Even if Judge Koh is hesitant to overrule the jury on this and skeptical of a non-final action, the reexamination process will continue during the Federal Circuit appellate proceedings, so if the non-final findings concerning claim 19 are affirmed in subsequent Office actions, they will have more weight. And even after the appeals process, a subsequent final rejection of the relevant patent claim would make the patent unenforceable going forward.
The report noted an anonymous third-party challenged the validity of the patent earlier this year by requesting a re-examination (Google looks up into space, begins whistling):
In late May, Scott Daniels, the author of the WHDA Reexamination Alert blog, discovered some new anonymous attacks on this patent and another famous Apple patent. I reported and commented on these findings. At the time I already listed the prior art references on which that ex parte reexamination request was based.
When we checked in last Friday on the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung cases in the United States, Apple’s lawyers were threatening Samsung with a temporary restraining order on the Galaxy S III to stop sales of the device before its June 21 release date. Apple was hoping Judge Lucy Koh would add the Galaxy S III to existing preliminary injunction requests that Apple previously made on other Galaxy products. However, according to a report from Reuters, Judge Koh ruled this week that Apple’s requests would “overload her calendar” given a July 30 trial date in the previous Galaxy cases is already set.
Apple can still request a ban on the Galaxy S III with a separate hearing date, but it likely will not be able to do so in enough time to block the device from launching later this month:
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, effectively dashed Apple’s hopes of stopping the launch of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy S III smartphone, which also runs on Android. Koh had said Apple’s push to get a court order blocking the June 21 launch would overload her calendar… Koh last week said Apple could ask for a temporary restraining order against the Galaxy S III phone, but that would likely delay the trial over a Galaxy tablet and other smartphones. In her order on Monday, the judge said Apple would have to request a new hearing date if it wanted to stop sales of the Galaxy S III phone. That likely would not take place before the phone’s scheduled launch. Apple has not said what its next move will be.
With litigation between the two companies in California still underway and a trial date set for July 30, FOSS Patents today reported Apple and Samsung filed a joint statement with Judge Lucy Koh outlining the “evidence-related issues” they hope to discuss in the months leading up to trial. Perhaps the most interesting piece of information in the filing is a request from Apple to obscure Samsung’s logo on televisions and video displays being used in the U.S. District Court in California where the case is being held.
Foss Patents also explained that Apple is requesting to exclude former CEO’s Steve Jobs quotes from Walter Isaacson’s biography and “any reference to working conditions in China”:
Apple wants the court to exclude any “argument or evidence regarding statements attributed to Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson”. This one obviously relates to the “thermonuclear war” quote and similar rhetoric… Apple furthermore wants the court to exclude “any reference to working conditions in China”.
As for what Samsung is requesting…
Samsung wants the court to exclude “Apple related blogs, and articles by non-expert newspaper reporters, regarding any assessment of Apple and Samsung and/or their products”… Samsung wants the court to strike the “opinions and testimony of Henry Urbach, Apple’s expert on the alleged cultural significance of Apple”. Samsung argues that “[t]he ‘cultural significance’ of Apple’s designs and Apple’s ‘commitment to design’ are not at issue in this litigation”
Earlier this month, we reported Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Samsung’s CEO Gee-Sung Choi agreed to an Alternative Dispute Resolution with Judge Lucy Koh in a California district court. The agreement, described as “semi voluntary” by media covering the case, would see the two chief’s and their legal counsels meet within 90 days for court-moderated, patent-related settlement talks. According to a new report from Foss Patents, Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, who is overseeing the settlement talks, has now scheduled the meeting for May 21-22:
The meetings will take place in a San Francisco courthouse, while the litigation itself is before the San Jose division of the court… one of the things Magistrate Judge Spero wants the parties to do is to provide a settlement statement until May 9 including, among other things, “a candid evaluation of the parties’ likelihood of prevailing on the claims and defenses”
Not surprisingly, the mediation and statements submitted by both companies throughout the process will apparently remain confidential. In the report, while noting pending disputes between the two companies exist in as many as 10 countries, Foss Patents broke down how the court’s decisions could impact up to 31 countries:
Reuters reported that a judge rejected Apple and Google’s bid last night to have an antitrust lawsuit dismissed. The lawsuit claimed the companies illegally entered “no-poach” agreements in an effort to stop competitors from stealing talent:
District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, rejected the companies’ bid to dismiss claims brought under the Sherman Act and California state law, in a decision released Wednesday night. […] The proposed class action lawsuit was brought by five software engineers, who accused the companies of conspiring to depress employee pay by eliminating competition for skilled labor.
Other defendants in the case included Intel, Adobe Systems, Intuit Walt Disney Co’s Pixar, and Lucasfilm.
This Aside is cross-posted at 9to5Google.
(Image via Zoknowsgaming)
Late last week we told you that the U.S. Justice Department apparently had evidence that Apple, along along with Google, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, Intel, and Lucasfilms, entered “no-poach” agreements as part of an antitrust investigation from 2010. U.S. District Judge Lucy H Koh made a statement yesterday at the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., confirming the companies must face a lawsuit. According to the report from Bloomberg, Koh said she would allow plaintiffs to re-file their complaint even if an initial request by the defendants to dismiss the claims is granted.
Judge Koh’s decision yesterday will result in Google and the other companies having to provide a detailed account of the agreements made with other companies. They must also allow lawyers to take depositions. One lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Joseph Saveri, said, “We get to see what really happened,” claiming the case could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Google provided statements to Bloomberg claiming they have “always actively and aggressively recruited top talent,” while the others have declined to comment.