Confidential internal Google and Apple memos, buried within piles of court dockets and reviewed by and reported in PandoDaily,
clearly show that what began as a secret cartel agreement between Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Eric Schmidt to illegally fix the labor market for hi-tech workers, expanded within a few years to include companies ranging from Dell, IBM, eBay and Microsoft, to Comcast, Clear Channel, Dreamworks, and London-based public relations firm WPP. All told, the combined workforces of the companies involved totals well over a million employees.
The well cited and linked PandoDaily piece is worth reading. It sources a Department of Justice investigation. Pando, BTW, is owned by a group of Silicon Valley investors, mostly VCs, who may find it beneficial to spread the blame beyond the Bay Area.
International Business Times provided a chart showing some of the companies involved.
According to reports, damages in the case, which will be heard in San Jose starting May 27, could as high as $9 billion if the workers are able to prove that the Valley’s prominent technologies companies invoked an “overarching conspiracy” not to recruit or hire each others’ talent to hold down their mobility and pay.
A lead story in The New York Times on February 28, “Engineers Allege Hiring Collusion in Silicon Valley,” took PandoDaily’s reporting a step further. The lead of the story could just as easily have been addressing the patent battles that have befallen patent holders and are currently being waged on Capitol Hill, where patent monetization is being characterized as a scourge that must be obliterated.
“SAN FRANCISCO — Tech companies love new ideas, unless they belong to someone else. Then any breakthroughs must be neutralized or bought. Silicon Valley executives know all too well that a competitor’s unchecked innovation can quickly topple the mightiest tech titan.”
The net-net: Most large tech players fear patents, and despite holding many, will do just about anything to weaken their impact. Hopefully, this will be a wake up call for lawmakers, the media and others.
The Times story goes on to report “Just how far Silicon Valley will go to remove competitive risks and how they are at the heart of a class-action lawsuit that accuses industry executives of agreeing between 2005 and 2009 not to poach one another’s employees… the case involves 64,000 programmers and seeks billions of dollars in damages. Its mastermind, court papers say, was the executive who was the most successful, most innovative and most concerned about competition of all — Steve Jobs.”
Was it primarily Jobs or is it merely convenient to put the primary blame on him now that he is no longer present to defend himself?
“These guys have such an amazing sense of entitlement,” one prominent patent holder told me today. “Do you think they would have any problem stealing IP from inventors or NPE’s? Lawmakers who buy the patent ‘troll’ fairy tale are either naive or are afraid to lose campaign support.”
Image source: http://www.nyt.com