Google's Page, Brin and Schmidt to testify in employee antritrust case

The executives' deposition statements could later be used in court

Google's famed "triumvirate" -- Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt -- will give oral statements over the coming weeks as part of a private antitrust suit brought against Google and six other technology companies by former employees.

The civil suit, filed last year in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe and several other tech giants in the region conspired to enter into "no poach" agreements to eliminate competition between them by restricting their hiring of each other's employees.

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Google CEO Larry Page and cofounder Sergey Brin are scheduled to give depositions on the charges on March 22 and March 19, respectively, a court document filed Feb. 15 said. Depositions are oral statements given under oath that are often taken to examine potential witnesses that could be used later in the trial.

Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt will also give his deposition on Wednesday at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

During the deposition lawyers for the plaintiffs and the defendants will ask each executive questions about their knowledge of the so-called "do not cold call" bilateral agreements from 2005 to 2007 that form the basis of the case. Under the agreements, the companies placed employees of the other in a list with instructions to recruiters not to "cold call" the employees, the plaintiffs, all software engineers, allege.

Joseph Saveri, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, declined to say what specific questions he and his colleagues might ask Page, Brin or Schmidt. He did say that the case's documents, which include emails and other company files that have since been made public, indicate that the Google executives "had knowledge" of the contested practice.

The questions are likely to revolve around the evidence that currently exists and how the case has developed over time, Saveri said.

Both the defendants' and plaintiffs' lawyers will ask questions during the depositions, which could include cross-examinations of the executives' knowledge of the alleged no poach agreements. But the scene is not likely to play out in a fashion similar to the legal scenes in Hollywood's "Social Network" film.

"It will be more formal and less dramatized," Saveri said.

Eric Schmidt served as Google's CEO from 2001 to 2011, and sat on Apple's board of directors during the period of the alleged hiring agreements, according to court documents.

Asked for comment, a Google spokeswoman said via email: "We have always actively and aggressively recruited top talent."

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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