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Apple asks for dismissal of lawsuit from battery maker A123

Apple asks for dismissal of lawsuit from battery maker A123

Apple argues that it doesn't compete with A123 because their batteries end up in different products

The claims A123 Systems made against Apple in a civil lawsuit over employee hiring are speculative and the case should be dismissed, Apple argued in a motion filed Tuesday.

According to recent reports, Apple is developing an electric car and has hired staff with car engineering backgrounds. In June, Apple hired five engineers from A123, which manufactures lithium-ion batteries that can power large machines, such as automobiles.

A123 sued Apple and the five former employees in February, claiming beach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets, among other allegations. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts.

In Tuesday's filing, Apple said the batteries used by the two companies don't compete in the same markets. Apple's batteries end up in consumer products and the ones A123 develops are for commercial and industrial use.

A123 lacks evidence that Apple is entering the commercial battery market, the filing said. The battery maker reached this conclusion in part on an Apple job description that was found on the computer of a former A123 employee, Apple argued. The job posting didn't mention commercial batteries and instead said Apple was seeking people with at least five years of technical experience in computer and consumer electronics, according to the filing.

In short, A123 didn't offer enough proof that Apple poached its employees, Apple told the court.

"Apple hiring five A123 employees, without more, does not indicate improper means or motive to support a claim for tortuous interference or 'raiding.'"

In its motion, Apple said that A123 failed to offer evidence that its former employees possessed trade secrets or that such information was used to the battery maker's detriment.

Last week Apple requested an extension to reply to the lawsuit because the companies were looking to settle the case.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

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