A bid by Apple to settle an employee poaching lawsuit with battery maker A123 Systems appears to have been unsuccessful, with the iPhone maker now asking the court to dismiss the suit or transfer it to its home turf in California.
A123 had in a suit filed in a federal court in Massachusetts charged Apple with poaching five of its employees to set up a new battery division, which was seen to give credence to reports that Apple was planning to get into the electric car business.
As the case arises out of Apple's employment of several former A123 Systems employees to work in California, all of the relevant witnesses and records are in that state, and the alleged wrongful acts also occurred there, Apple said in a filing Wednesday. Apple has asked that the case be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
A123 has its principal place of business in Michigan, not Massachusetts, according to the filing.
Apple could not be immediately reached for comment on the status of the settlement talks. The company had filed a motion last week that asked the court for time until Wednesday to file its responses to A123's motions as it and the five engineers charged were exploring "a potential resolution of this matter." The new filing did not give an update on those talks.
On Tuesday, Apple asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to dismiss the A123 suit, claiming that the charges are based on an "incorrect and unsupportable theory." In its motion for transfer of the case to California, the company said that the court should transfer the case only if its motion to dismiss is denied in whole or in part.
The complaint admits that Apple and A123 do not compete, as Apple is a consumer electronics company that develops and purchases batteries for use in its products, while A123 manufactures and sells batteries to commercial and industrial customers, according to the Tuesday filing.
"The simple fact Mr. Ijaz allegedly contacted a third party who collaborated with A123... is far from enough to support the broad conclusion that a consumer electronics company is entering into the market to sell commercial or industrial batteries," said Apple, while questioning A123's claim that the employees had breached the non-compete provisions of their contracts.
The former employee Mujeeb Ijaz was charged in A123's complaint with trying to solicit a partner of A123, called SiNode Systems, on behalf of Apple.
Apple's possible entry into electric cars came up again during its shareholder meeting on Tuesday. "Quite frankly, Id like to see you guys buy Tesla," an investor told Apple CEO Tim Cook, according to reports.