Apple, Google Antitrust Accord Rejected: Business of Law

Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. failed to persuade a judge to approve a $324.5 million settlement over claims they agreed to not recruit each other’s workers.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose on Aug. 8 refused to grant preliminary approval to the settlement after expressing doubts about whether it was sufficient at a hearing in June. The case, filed in 2011, has been an embarrassment for some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies by revealing behind-the-scenes brokering among top executives at the expense of their workers.

The employees, represented by firms including Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP and Grant & Eisenhofer, reached the settlement in May, four days before a trial was scheduled to begin.

Koh was urged to reject the settlement by a former Adobe computer scientist who had been one of the lead plaintiffs in the class action representing 64,000 workers until he concluded the settlement was insufficient.

Matt Kallman, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, declined to comment on the ruling.

Kelly Dermody, a lawyer representing the employees, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The case is In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-cv-02509, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

NCAA Will Appeal Judge’s $800 Million Student-Player Pay Ruling

The National Collegiate Athletic Association will appeal a federal court ruling that allows student athletes to seek a share of $800 million in annual broadcast revenue.

A lawsuit filed in 2009 by ex-college basketball player Ed O’Bannon challenged the treatment of students as amateurs as college basketball and football evolved into multibillion-dollar businesses, with money flowing to the NCAA, broadcasters, member schools and coaches -- everyone but the players.

“We remain confident that the NCAA has not violated the antitrust laws and intend to appeal,” NCAA’s chief legal officer, Donald Remy, said in a statement. “We will also be seeking clarity from the District Court on some details of its ruling.”

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, ruled Aug. 8 that the NCAA structure violates antitrust law by limiting what schools can offer athletes. She said college sports’ governing body can no longer cap scholarships below the cost of attendance and that players should be paid for the use of their names, images and likenesses.

The case is In Re NCAA Student-Athlete Name and Likeness Licensing Litigation, 4:09-cv-01967, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

Maryland Agrees to Pay $31.4 Million to ACC for Joining Big Ten

The University of Maryland and Atlantic Coast Conference have settled their dispute over Maryland’s decision to leave the ACC for approximately $31.4 million.

In an announcement on Aug. 8, the ACC the amount reflects the revenues already withheld from the school since its 2012 decision to leave the conference. Maryland could have paid more: under ACC provisions, the exit fee is calculated at three times its annual operating budget, or more than $50 million, Bloomberg Sports reported.

“This agreement allows everyone to fully focus their energy and efforts on prioritizing the student-athletes, especially in this significant time of change within the NCAA restructuring,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in an e-mailed statement.

The settlement ends all litigation between the two sides, and Maryland has no further financial obligation to its former conference, according to the release. Lawsuits in the states of North Carolina and Maryland will also be dismissed.

Maryland, a charter member of the ACC since it joined in 1953, officially moved to the Big Ten on July 1.

“Our student-athletes, coaches, staff, fans and alumni will forever hold dear the memories of six outstanding decades in the Atlantic Coast Conference,” Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson said.

The exit fee far exceeds the amounts paid by schools leaving other conferences. Pittsburgh and Syracuse agreed on $7.5 million departure payments from the Big East in July 2012.

Law Firm News

Laterals Join Kleinberg Kaplan, Snell & Wilmer, Dykema, Venable

Joseph Iskowitz has joined Kleinberg Kaplan Wolff & Cohen, P.C. as a partner in the firm’s hedge fund practice. He previously was a partner in the New York office of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. Iskowitz focuses his practice on the formation and structuring of domestic and offshore investment funds, including hedge funds and private equity funds, and advises funds on a range of issues.

Snell & Wilmer LLP has added two partners and one counsel to its ranks. Patent prosecution partner Jonathan Jaech and intellectual property litigation counsel Glenn Trost have joined the firm’s Los Angeles office. Along with patent prosecutor Grant Langton, who joined the firm earlier this month, Jaech and Trost were previously with the law firm Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg LLP.

Jaech’s practice includes intellectual property counseling, due diligence, licensing and transactions, patent prosecution including appeals and reissue, and reexaminations. Trost, an engineer, is a first-chair trial and appellate lawyer who represents clients in disputes involving claims of patent infringement, copyright infringement, trademark infringement, trade secret violations and rights to publicity.

Additionally, Raymond Heyman has joined Snell & Wilmer’s natural resources practice as a partner in the Phoenix office. Heyman is regulatory attorney who represents electric, gas, water, sewer, solar and telecommunication companies throughout the Southwest. Heyman had been the general counsel of UniSource Energy/Tucson Electric Power Company until 2011, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints asked him to preside over its Argentina mission for three years, the firm said in a statement. He returned from that assignment in July 2014.

Eric Berman, an antitrust lawyer, has joined Venable LLP as counsel in the firm’s Washington office. He represents clients in merger reviews and litigation as well as advertising and consumer protection claims before the Federal Trade Commission, the firm said in a statement. Previously, Berman was a partner and chair of the antitrust and trade regulation practice at Williams Mullen.

Eric White has joined the corporate finance practice of Dykema Gossett PLLC as senior counsel in the firm’s Dallas office. Prior to joining Dykema, White practiced in the Dallas office of Patton Boggs LLP, now Squire Patton Boggs. White focuses his practice on domestic and international finance transactions.

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