Apple settles lawsuit with battery maker A123 over poached employees

13 May 2015

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Apple has settled a lawsuit with A123

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Apple and battery maker A123 Systems are close to settling a lawsuit that accuses the consumer tech giant of poaching employees.

The legal action was filed earlier this year after A123 claimed that former engineer Mujeeb Ijaz had breached an agreement not to target the firm’s scientists and engineers after departing to join Apple.

A123 alleged that Apple and Ijaz were “systematically hiring away A123’s high-tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123” in order to build a competing battery business. Those employees included Don Dafoe, Michael Erickson and Indrajeet Thorat

Apple had denied any wrongdoing, saying A123’s claims were “premised on baseless conjecture.”

According to The Boston Globe, Apple and A123 “have reached an agreement, signed a term sheet, and are in the process of drafting a final settlement agreement”. The federal judge granted them more time to finalise the paperwork.

The lawsuit sparked speculation amongst analysts who suggested that Apple could be investigating the possibility of building an electric car. The company has also reportedly engaged in a recruitment war with Tesla, offering engineers US$250,000 signing on bonuses and a 60pc salary hike.

Just last January, Apple was one of four large-scale firms that agreed to pay US$415m to a number of former employees who, in an anti-trust class action lawsuit, claimed the companies restricted them from changing jobs.

The four-year legal battle drew to a close when plaintiffs agreed to settle with Intel, Google, Apple and Adobe Systems after accusing them of conspiring to stop their movement between companies in the tech sector so as to not obtain each other’s internal operations and, as a result, keeping a lid on salaries.

Apple sign image via Shutterstock

 

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Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com