Judge Orders Apple CEO Tim Cook To Field Questions At Tech Company Anti-Poaching Agreement Hearing

Remember that time Apple, Google, Intel and other major tech companies were named in a civil suit where ex-employees claimed that they had all conspired to eliminate hiring competition at the top of the U.S. tech world? Well in a new development, Judge Lucy Koh said in a Thursday hearing that Apple CEO Tim Cook would have to testify and be questioned by the plaintiff’s attorneys in that case for a duration of four hours, Reuters reports.

Koh is in the process of figuring out whether the lawsuit should proceed as a class action, in which case the plaintiffs will be able to pursue a much larger settlement. The judge said that during the time that no poaching arrangements were agreed upon by the defendants in the case, it seems that ranking executives at each of the companies involved believed that joining forces was a better strategy than dealing with individual employees. In other words, they saw real financial benefits resulting from the infringement, which means Koh definitely does see merit in the civil complaint.

As for testifying executives, Koh said that attorneys were being too slow scheduling depositions from top brass according to Reuters. Apple in fact tried to avoid putting Cook on the stand at all, claiming since he was COO and CEO at the time the agreements were formed, he wasn’t involved in their creation. Koh wasn’t having any of that, however, and responded that she found it “hard to believe” Cook wouldn’t be involved in such high-level discussions related to employee compensation given his role as COO.

Others called to talk to the court include exiting Intel CEO Paul Otellini and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. The anti-poaching arrangement previously came under fire from the U.S. Department of Justice, too, but that investigation was wrapped up way back in 2010 when the government body arranged a settlement with the companies that involved them agreeing not to enter into any future no solicitation agreements for employees.