Tech giant Apple is asking the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts to dismiss battery maker A123's lawsuit because it doesn't offer enough evidence that Apple is poaching A123's employees to develop competing technologies, according to a motion for dismissal filed Tuesday.
The lawsuit by Michigan-based A123 is seeking a restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent Apple and a former A123 employee from recruiting other employees to leave the battery firm. The complaint claims that Apple has enticed five top-level scientists, engineers and technical managers from the firm since June.
All of the former A123 employees are experts in lithium-ion battery technologies, which has led to speculation that Apple is interested in developing electric and/or self-driving cars. However, "nothing in the complaint suggests that the individual defendants are working on any product that would compete with any A123 products," Apple's motion for dismissal noted.
'This Is Where Things Are Headed'
A123's dispute with Apple illustrates the fast-changing and increasingly competitive environment for electric- and self-driving car research and development. As Bloomberg reported in February, Elon Musk's innovative car firm, Tesla, has "hired at least 150 former Apple employees" with a wide range of skills.
The flow of talent between automakers and software/tech companies isn't unexpected as cars become increasingly more advanced, computerized and even autonomous.
"I think everybody is all in because nobody wants to get left behind," writer/director Chris Paine told us. "Everybody understands this is where things are headed."
Paine, who has written and directed such documentaries as, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and "Revenge of the Electric Car," said Musk's Tesla got a head start with the new generation of electric cars, but that both traditional automakers and Silicon Valley firms now see the opportunities in advanced vehicle development.
"Everybody wants what Tesla and companies like Uber and Lyft are capturing," Paine said. Beyond being better for the environment, electric cars represent the automotive future because they're "a better drive," he said. By being the first to a new market, Tesla has also come to appear "sexier than Apple was in terms of where hot engineers want to be."
Although Apple has not publicly acknowledged working on a new automotive technology, the company's actions show "they're not messing around," said Paine, whose latest film is "Bikes vs. Cars," and who is now working on a movie about artificial intelligence.
No Signs of Resolution
Apple last week had asked the court for an extension for its response to A123's complaint, noting that it was "exploring potential resolution of this matter with plaintiff." This week's motion for dismissal did not provide any more information on such a potential resolution.
The complaint contends that Apple's hiring of the battery firm's employees has contributed to "effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123." It stated that such moves indicate "Apple's apparent plans to establish a battery division that is similar if not identical to A123's."
This is not the first time tech companies have been accused of employee poaching and similar practices. An antitrust lawsuit filed in 2013 charged Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel with colluding to avoid the poaching of employees to keep down salaries. That case is set to come to trial in California on April 9.
Image credit: Apple; iStock/Artist's concept.
Posted: 2015-03-12 @ 5:28am PT
How DARE a company offer employees more money and a better deal... and the employees voluntarily leave the company they aren't happen with... and take the better offer.
Don't people know they are supposed to stay at the company they DON'T like, instead????