Tim Cook will be questioned in anti-poaching case

WWDC 2012 keynote (Tim Cook 001)

Apple CEO Tim Cook will be questioned on February 20 alongside Google chairman Eric Schmidt, former Intel boss Paul Otellini and other top ranking officials of Silicon Valley companies in regard to allegations that these tech giants illegally instituted anti-poaching measures for financial gains.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ordered Cook to be questioned by plaintiff attorneys for four hours. Five former employees of Apple, Google, Intel and others filed a civil suit alleging their former employers conspired to eliminate competition for each other’s employees…

Bloomberg names the defendants in the case: Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Pixar, Intuit and Lucasfilm. Intel’s Paul Otellini and Google’s Eric Schmidt are also to give depositions on February 20.

Reuters has more:

Koh on Thursday criticized attorneys for the tech companies for being too slow to schedule depositions of top executives. Apple attorney George Riley attempted to spare Cook from a deposition, saying that when Cook was chief operating officer (COO) of the company before succeeding Jobs in 2011, Cook had no role in any of the no-hire agreements.

Koh responded:

I find it hard to believe a COO would have no say over salary and compensation for all employees.

She has a point.

Judge Koh dismissed in April 2012 a motion by the iPhone maker and six other defendants to dismiss the anti-poaching suit. Koh has yet to determine whether the lawsuit can proceed as a class action. If so, the plaintiffs could seek civil damages in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to Bloomberg, Koh told lawyers that Steve Jobs was copied on e-mails at issue in the case.

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.

Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs in 2007 emailed then Google CEO Eric Schmidt to request that Google stop poaching Apple engineers. Schmidt was an Apple board member at the time.