U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has ordered Apple CEO Tim Cook to give a deposition related to an ongoing private lawsuit that claims Apple, Google, and others entered “no-poach” agreements. In addition to Cook, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, as well as Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini have been ordered to give depositions.
Koh told lawyers yesterday that Apple founder Steve Jobs was copied on e-mails at issue in the case, and that she found it “hard to believe” that Cook, as Apple’s chief operating officer at the time in question, wouldn’t have been consulted about such agreements.
The judge said she was disappointed that senior executives at the companies involved hadn’t been deposed before yesterday’s hearing over whether she should certify the case as a group lawsuit. The class would include different categories of employees whose incomes, their lawyers argue, were artificially reduced because of the collusion. Koh didn’t rule on class certification.
While employees filed the private lawsuit, it replicates a complaint settled with the U.S. Justice Department following an initial antitrust probe in 2010. The Justice Department charged the companies kept “do-not-call” lists in order to avoid poaching issues, but it also said the agreements could hurt competition and employees.
The Department said Apple and Adobe executives had agreed in 2005 to not ”cold-call” each other’s employees. It also claimed Apple and Google created a do-not-call list in 2006, with Apple, Pixar, and Google, all entering similar agreements with Intuit and Intel in 2007.