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Apple reaches settlement in Silicon Valley anti-poaching lawsuit [ux2]

Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt during the iPhone's introduction at MacWorld in 2007.

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A major antitrust lawsuit accusing major technology companies, including Apple, of participating in an illegal hiring agreement won't proceed in court, as the accused parties have reached a settlement with the class who brought the complaint.

Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe all agreed to the out-of-court settlement, which was disclosed in court on Thursday, according to Reuters. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Had the settlement not been reached, trial was scheduled to start in May. The class-action complaint was brought forward on behalf of about 60,000 workers in Silicon Valley.

Earlier this month, it was suggested that Apple and others could pay a "blindingly high" $9 billion to settle the lawsuit. That's because there was a mountain of evidence appearing implicate the companies for participating in an alleged no-hire cartel.

The employees involved in the suit were seeking a payment of about $90,000 per person — a considerable sum that they apparently felt confident about because of the strong evidence presented in the case. Some of the key evidence involved late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who placed a call to Google's Sergey Brin and threatened "war" over recruitment efforts from the rival company

Jobs also made similar requests of other top company execs like Edward Colligan, former CEO of erstwhile handset maker Palm, who refused to enter any such agreement, saying that it was "likely illegal." Apple was also revealed to have sent out an email identifying that Google employees were part of a "hands-off" list.

Apple and others made a last-ditch request to prevent the trial last month, but a judge denied their efforts and said the trial will proceed. The plaintiffs in the case were granted class status last October by U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh. Since then, the number of plaintiffs have ballooned from some 64,000 past and present employees to six figures' worth of workers.

The U.S. Department of Justice leveled its own lawsuit regarding the matter after investigating Apple, Adobe, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar for the same anti-poaching measures. Like in this class-action suit, the defendants ultimately settled that case with the DOJ in 2010.

Update: In a tweet, Reuters court reporter Dan Levine cites sources as saying Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe have agreed to pay $324 million as part of the settlement.