poaching

Judge questions $324M settlement

A federal judge Thursday heavily questioned a $324 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit against Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel alleging illegal hiring practices, leaving it unclear whether she will sign off on the deal later this year.

"I have concerns," U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said during a back-and-forth with lawyers that lasted nearly two hours. "I would like to think about it further, but I do have concerns about whether this is a good settlement for the plaintiffs."

The settlement, which gives about 64,000 workers involved an average of a few thousand dollars each, was a big victory for the companies, allowing them to avoid an embarrassing trial while sustaining a relatively minor financial hit. Apple, for example, has nearly 500 times as much in its cash reserves as the total settlement amount.

The proposed settlement has been called unjust by one of the four named plaintiffs in the 2011 lawsuit. Michael Devine, a former Adobe engineer, wrote a letter to Koh last April bitterly attacking the deal, which he noted was barely one-tenth of the $3 billion in compensation the 64,000 workers could have made had the collusion not occurred.

Outside court Thursday, he reiterated his opposition. "A lot of people care about this case, so I'm not surprised by all the reaction to my letter," Devine said. "I can't predict the likelihood of what may or may not happen now, but I have confidence in the judge."

earnings

Oracle's sales up, but profit falls in Q4

Technology giant Oracle on Thursday said profit dropped in its fiscal fourth quarter and sales and earnings missed Wall Street expectations.

The company's sales for the period totaled $11.3 billion, up 3 percent from the same period a year ago. But profit fell 4 percent to $3.6 billion. That worked out to fully reported earnings of 80 cents a share, or 92 cents a share with certain expenses excluded. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters generally had expected fully reported earnings of 83 cents a share on sales of $11.48 billion, or 95 cents a share excluding certain expenses.

-- Staff reports