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Judge voices concern over settlement in Apple anti-poaching suit, may not approve agreement

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
During a court hearing on Thursday, a federal judge voiced concern over a proposed settlement reached in a class action lawsuit over alleged anti-poaching agreements involving Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe.

Anti-poaching suit's Class Representative Michael Devine. | Source: The New York Times


U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh was in court today to hear arguments surrounding a $324.5 million settlement the tech giants agreed to pay a class of employees that claim supposed anti-poaching measures resulted in lost wages, reports Reuters.

"I just have concerns about whether this is really fair to the class," Koh said. She added that plaintiffs had leverage going into the trial phase of the suit, citing email evidence from company CEOs that appeared to suggest the institution of unwritten no-poaching arrangements.

One particular exchange between late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs and former Google chief Eric Schmidt reportedly led to a stoppage of inter-company recruiting and the ultimate termination of a Google staffing director.

Additional correspondence between Jobs and other high-ranking executives pulled back the curtain on Silicon Valley's inner workings. Further evidence, including more emails, were expected to be disclosed during the trial.

Some have speculated that Apple pushed for a settlement in a bid to keep these potentially damning documents, which may tarnish the company's image and that of Jobs, out of the public arena.

Plaintiffs in the case originally sought $3 billion in damages from the tech giants, a figure that could have been trebled to $9 billion under federal law. Judge Koh previously approved related settlements reached by Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Intuit, the total of which came out to around $20 million.

In May, named plaintiff and class representative Michael Devine filed an objection to the settlement, saying defendants were getting off easy considering their considerable cash reserves.

A lawyer representing Google said in court today that the $324.5 million figure Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe agreed to pay is at a higher premium per employee compared to the already settled cases.

Despite her concerns, Koh also said she views the settlement as a positive for plaintiffs as the agreement would allow everyone to recover at least some money. With a class of around 74,000, however, the per-person payout would be on the order of only a few thousand dollars.

Judge Koh has yet to render a decision on the proposed settlement, meaning the companies may have renegotiate with plaintiffs' attorneys or face going to trial.
post #2 of 51
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
"I just have concerns about whether this is really fair to the class," Koh said.

 

I get it. She thinks she’s a schoolteacher. Now it all makes sense. ;) 

 

Look, we need a new district court.

post #3 of 51

She has concerns whether this is fair to class. I don't get her at all.

 

Hey Koh how about letting Apple get some fairness in the suit with Samsung? 

 

The court / justice system is totally screwed.

post #4 of 51
Some judges need to be shown the door.

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post #5 of 51
Typical legal shenanigans. Michael Devine filed a lawsuit, the lawyers co-opted it into a class action and effectively took all the proceeds for themselves, leaving the actual plaintiffs with empty pockets (or useless "vouchers").

I wish more class actions were subject to a smell test vs. simply being rubberstamped.

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post #6 of 51
Here's an idea, why don't the courts make US companies even less competitive in the global marketplace.

There are plenty of highly trained people in India and China who would be glad for the work.
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post #7 of 51
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post
Here’s an idea, why don't the courts make US companies even less competitive in the global marketplace.

 

Okay. The SCOTUS apparently just threw out the concept of software patents. That good enough?

post #8 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Okay. The SCOTUS apparently just threw out the concept of software patents. That good enough?

SCOTUS didn't throw out software patents, just a very tiny class of it, which is good news. They ruled that applying technical generic terms to abstract ideas is not enough to get patents. In other words, just putting a computer in the middle of an idea doesn't make it any less of an abstract idea.  

 

Better source that's less emotional than the source you linked to. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/06/supreme-court-smashes-do-it-on-a-computer-patents-in-9-0-opinion/

 

Actual quotes from the SCOTUS:

 

Quote:

(2) Turning to the second step of Mayo’s framework: The method claims, which merely require generic computer implementation, fail to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. Pp. 10–16.

(i) “Simply appending conventional steps, specified at a high level of generality,” to a method already “well known in the art” is not “enough” to supply the “ ‘inventive concept’ ” needed to make this transformation. Mayo, supra, at ___, ___. The introduction of a com- puter into the claims does not alter the analysis. Neither stating an abstract idea “while adding the words ‘apply it,’ ” Mayo, supra, at ___, nor limiting the use of an abstract idea “ ‘to a particular technological environment,’ ” Bilski, supra, at 610–611, is enough for patent eligi- bility. 

 

 

Pretty sure software patents is still good to go as long as it doesn't turn an abstract idea into something else with simple generic stuff. 


Edited by MikhailT - 6/20/14 at 12:59am
post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Okay. The SCOTUS apparently just threw out the concept of software patents. That good enough?

 

No, the ruling only referenced software patents that cover 'abstract ideas'.

post #10 of 51
"...defendants were getting off easy considering their considerable cash reserves."

Everyone thinks they are entitled to those cash reserves.
post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by NostraThomas View Post

"...defendants were getting off easy considering their considerable cash reserves."

Everyone thinks they are entitled to those cash reserves.

In the past there was the Age of Enlightenment. We're living in the Age of Entitlement.

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post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikhailT View Post

SCOTUS didn't throw out software patents, just a very tiny class of it, which is good news. They ruled that applying technical generic terms to abstract ideas is not enough to get patents. In other words, just putting a computer in the middle of an idea doesn't make it any less of an abstract idea.

I think the actual end result will be somewhere between Ars expectations (were any patent professionals involved in writing their article?) and what experienced patent attorney and pro-IP blogger Gene Quinn had to say at IPWatchdog. Reading both articles (see TS link) is probably worth a few minutes time.

The real-world impact will be revealed in some upcoming Federal cases involving software patents and how the judges in those cases translate SCOTUS' ruling. This will all take some time to play out.
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post #13 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

Typical legal shenanigans. Michael Devine filed a lawsuit, the lawyers co-opted it into a class action and effectively took all the proceeds for themselves, leaving the actual plaintiffs with empty pockets (or useless "vouchers").

I wish more class actions were subject to a smell test vs. simply being rubberstamped.

I was wondering if you could back up that dismissive statement with specific fact, rather than the typical lawyer slur.

I'm not saying it isn't so, but I think your comment should be subjected to that 'smell test' as well.

post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikhailT View Post

Pretty sure software patents is still good to go as long as it doesn't turn an abstract idea into something else with simple generic stuff. 

Amazon's 1-Click? 5,960,411

Apple's slide-to-unlock? 8,046,721

Microsoft's patent on a method to jump ahead a page at a time on your computer display? 7,415,666

Apple patent on displaying a list? 8,223,134

IMO these are all fairly high-profile examples of software patents that would not be valid under the Supreme Court's most recent ruling.
Edited by Gatorguy - 6/20/14 at 6:12am
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post #15 of 51

I still stand on the fact of those 74K individual how many really think they had rats chance in hell to get a job at any one of those companies... I bet if we all saw the list of names there would be a common thread in the list. There are a group of people who are job jumpers all they do is jump from one job to another in hopes to pump up their title and pay, these people think they are worth more than than they really are. They will immediate jump from one company to another for a title change or a little bit more money.

post #16 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Amazon's 1-Click? 5,960,411

Apple's slide-to-unlock? 8,046,721

Microsoft's patent on a method to jump ahead a page at a time on your computer display? 7,415,666

Apple patent on displaying a list? 8,223,134

IMO these are all fairly high-profile examples of software patents that would not be valid under the Supreme Court's most recent ruling.

According to the Ars Technica coverage, software patents are now not in the kind of jeopardy one might think. Actually, if there are patents at risk for Amazon or Apple, all they need to do is file a continuation and provide additional detail.

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post #17 of 51
What's Koh's argument? She was always pushing Apple and Samsung to go work things out outside of the court. So here she's presented with a settlement agreed to by both sides and she says maybe the court should handle it?

One would think her role here would be to examine the structure of the settlement to ensure that it could and would be implemented according to its terms.
post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

According to the Ars Technica coverage, software patents are now not in the kind of jeopardy one might think. Actually, if there are patents at risk for Amazon or Apple, all they need to do is file a continuation and provide additional detail.

While the Supreme Court only ruled specifically only on a somewhat narrow class of "software patents", the fact they declined to offer more explicit guidance on when software in general should be considered patentable will become problematic.

Discretion is now put in the hands of Federal judges to interpret taking into account their understanding of this SCOTUS ruling. I'll be shocked if one or more judges over the next several months doesn't toss a plaintiffs computer method patent complaint using a fairly broad understanding of this 9-0 Supreme Court case as justification. In addition you can expect the USPTO to take notice and view methods patents with a much more critical eye. Software patents will become increasingly difficult to get and the claims much less likely to be enforceable in court IMO.
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post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Apple's slide-to-unlock? 8,046,721

IMO these are all fairly high-profile examples of software patents that would not be valid under the Supreme Court's most recent ruling.

 

So how come I use abstract idea to perform the physical action of unlocking an iPhone?

 

i.e. it's a practical implementation, not an "abstract idea".

 

Once again your sidetrack fails.

 

How about Stanford's "using maths to find stuff" patent, the one that Google was the sole licensee of?

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post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

So how come I use abstract idea to perform the physical action of unlocking an iPhone?

i.e. it's a practical implementation, not an "abstract idea".

Once again your sidetrack fails.

How about Stanford's "using maths to find stuff" patent, the one that Google was the sole licensee of?

Absolutely. Toss that one in the perhaps unenforceable bin. As for your use of a physical gesture for an abstract idea I don't know why you think that would make it less abstract. So what in Apple's slide to unlock patent makes it unworthy of patenting based on the ruling? That it specifies it reads on a simple generic "computer-readable medium", which is abstract and in the view of the Court serves to monopolize the implementation of an idea. The Court ruled that a computer system (data processing unit for instance) and computer-readable medium claims “fail for substantially the same reasons.”

"If a patent’s recitation of a computer amounts to a mere instruction to “implemen[t]” an abstract idea “on … a computer,” that addition cannot impart patent eligibility. This conclusion accords with the pre-emption concern that undergirds our §101 jurisprudence. Given the ubiquity of computers, wholly generic computer implementation is not generally the sort of “additional featur[e]” that provides any “practical assurance that the process is more than a drafting effort designed to monopolize the [abstract idea] itself.”

"As to its system claims, petitioner emphasizes that those claims recite “specific hardware” configured to perform “specific computerized functions.” But what petitioner characterizes as specific hardware–a “data processing system” with a “communication controller” and “data storage unit,” for example–is purely functional and generic. Nearly every computer will include a “communications controller” and “data storage unit” capable of performing the basic calculation, storage, and transmission functions required by the method claims. As a result, none of the hardware recited by the system claims “offers a meaningful limitation beyond generally linking ‘the use of the [method] to a particular technological environment,’ that is, implementation via computers.

Edited by Gatorguy - 6/20/14 at 12:59pm
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post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post
 

 

So how come I use abstract idea to perform the physical action of unlocking an iPhone?

 

i.e. it's a practical implementation, not an "abstract idea".

 

Once again your sidetrack fails.

 

How about Stanford's "using maths to find stuff" patent, the one that Google was the sole licensee of?

Sure, Apple's implementation in the iPhone is obviously a practical implementation of slide-to-unlock. But the real question is how specific is the patent? A patent is supposed to be precise enough so that any person with ordinary skill in the art (say, an educated programmer) can translate the claims into a working product. 

post #22 of 51
Most of the folks who are supporting Apple in this case are "JEALOUS" that they are not part of this law suit. Well its given that the justice is made by the rich for the rich period.

How many wall street guys do we see behind the bars ? All the banks got north of $25B from TARP money and now they want to pay back $10-12B and get off all the scams they did.

Would a normal citizen who robs a bank get the same justice as the banks ? Not really and the same goes to Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel. Steve Jobs in his interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher ( All Things D) stated that he and Apple stands for principles and ethics, when he was asked about the Gizmodo episode. What kind of principles and ethics are we talking about when you sabotage the careers of your own employees. I am a fan of SJ and Apple but in this case i support the employees.
post #23 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

There are a group of people who are job jumpers all they do is jump from one job to another in hopes to pump up their title and pay, these people think they are worth more than than they really are. They will immediate jump from one company to another for a title change or a little bit more money.

Excuse me, but if someone is hired at a higher rate of pay, then they are by definition worth that higher pay. Don't criticize them for selling their skills to the highest bidder. That's what people should do.

post #24 of 51
Those employees need to be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars each...not a couple of thousand dollars. Google, Apple and friends need to pay up.
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pubby View Post

Steve Jobs in his interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher ( All Things D) stated that he and Apple stands for principles and ethics, when he was asked about the Gizmodo episode. What kind of principles and ethics are we talking about when you sabotage the careers of your own employees. I am a fan of SJ and Apple but in this case i support the employees.

 

I agree that Apple was wrong and the employees are right in this case.

 

However I don't think Apple's intention was to "sabotage" anyone's career or to save a few bucks in salaries. I think they were mainly concerned with losing key talent to poachers and having business secrets exposed to competitors.

 

Nonetheless it was a wrong move both legally and ethically, considering the implications for the employees.

 

Incidentally, the agreement between the companies was to not poach or solicit each other's talent. I read nothing indicating they were preventing employees from seeking better pay elsewhere on their own.


Edited by freediverx - 6/20/14 at 9:18am
post #26 of 51
I'm guessing a bit of judicial misconduct, if not just judicial stupidity. I'm not hating on Judge Koh, but once you allow the plaintiffs and their attorneys to set up a class action, you don't get to unilaterally change your mind and act as if it's NOT a class action because one of the plaintiffs heard that the respondents have a lot of money and decided they want it. Which is it? Is Apple defending against a class action or against a number of individual plaintiffs? How can you conduct a judicial process if the plaintiffs aren't identified or if that identity changes on a whim?
post #27 of 51
Originally Posted by Pubby View Post
Most of the folks who are supporting Apple in this case are "JEALOUS" that they are not part of this law suit.

 

Your proof of this is what?

 
Well its given that the justice is made by the rich for the rich period.

 

Oh, you’re one of those. I see.

 
I am a fan of SJ and Apple but…

 

Just stop.

post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

I still stand on the fact of those 74K individual how many really think they had rats chance in hell to get a job at any one of those companies... I bet if we all saw the list of names there would be a common thread in the list. There are a group of people who are job jumpers all they do is jump from one job to another in hopes to pump up their title and pay, these people think they are worth more than than they really are. They will immediate jump from one company to another for a title change or a little bit more money.

 

In today's corporate environment, where most companies couldn't care less about their employees and no employee can count on any semblance of long term job security, you can't blame employees for looking out for their own interests and doing whatever it takes to maximize their earning potential. In fact, it's stupid to do otherwise. In many companies the only way to get a significant wage increase is via a promotion, and in many cases the company org structure makes that difficult or impossible for many, regardless of their talent or performance. In these cases the only alternative is to move to another company.

post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by NostraThomas View Post

"...defendants were getting off easy considering their considerable cash reserves."

Everyone thinks they are entitled to those cash reserves.

Sounds to me like these reserves were acquired through cheating the employment system, which means at the cost of both the taxpayer (hopefully you), the capitalist society at large (includes me), and the employees that do not get their fair deal.

Entitles everyone quoted above to a share of that ill-begotten money. How large a share is debatable, which could be settled under the "I have more spearmen than you" rule, or by a court.

Everything seems to run as good as humans can make it run. It is not perfect, but we humans aren't.

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post #30 of 51
Also, it baffles me that in the US it seems a class action prevents the State from pursuing their own action. What do I miss here?

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post #31 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Those employees need to be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars each...not a couple of thousand dollars. Google, Apple and friends need to pay up.

That's absurd.  A few thousands dollars seems like appropriate compensation for employees who might have been recruited if these companies didn't have (perhaps informal) agreements to not do that.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars per person--who can't prove that they were personally affected--is nuts.  The settlement might be on the low side--Apple and others should feel some pain and be discouraged from going down this path again--but it's not off by a factor of 100.

post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

Also, it baffles me that in the US it seems a class action prevents the State from pursuing their own action. What do I miss here?

It doesn't.  But if the various authorities who could bring legal action believe that justice has been served, then it's appropriate that they wouldn't take any further action.

post #33 of 51


Do you know how many had the chance? As someone responded to you "People have every right to sell their skills" and because their skills are valued, they are offered higher pays and titles at other companies" on the contrary can we say " People doesn't have the skills  to go to other places and thats why they stay longer in their jobs". Not really, Some people are passionate about their work and some are passionate about money and title. When companies can market their products and sell at a higher price why not people. Your argument makes no sense and neither of us know if everyone other offers.  This is a clear case of salary fixing and conspiracy against the employers and all these four companies as corrupt as wall street. 

post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

There are plenty of highly trained people in India and China who would be glad for the work.

 

You have to be really careful there. Quality of work is a tremendous risk with that option, and you have to invest significant money in management to mitigate.

 

There's a reason that companies in my home town are paying $100k-$400k for Java developers when you can get them for $11k overseas.

post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
 

Excuse me, but if someone is hired at a higher rate of pay, then they are by definition worth that higher pay. Don't criticize them for selling their skills to the highest bidder. That's what people should do.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by freediverx View Post
 

 

In today's corporate environment, where most companies couldn't care less about their employees and no employee can count on any semblance of long term job security, you can't blame employees for looking out for their own interests and doing whatever it takes to maximize their earning potential. In fact, it's stupid to do otherwise. In many companies the only way to get a significant wage increase is via a promotion, and in many cases the company org structure makes that difficult or impossible for many, regardless of their talent or performance. In these cases the only alternative is to move to another company.

 

Trust me I am on my 5th company and at all my companies I was successfully at negotiate raises and job changes. At my current company I am on the 3 opportunity in 7 yrs . The only reason I changed companies was because the economy was changing and I did not want to stick around to turn out the lights on a company or industry. I know all too well you need to look out for number one. However my point was and I still believe these people are job jumps, they jump jobs since they know they are going no where fast in the the company they are at. I know for a fact that if you have the skills and knowledge and know how to make yourself valuable your company will keep you around and give you better jobs and pay you what you are really worth. I will also tell you I have gone through two different down turns in the economy at 2 different companies I weather multiply quarters of people being left go. Even in these bad economies I negotiate pay raises, bonuses and other benefits, and I watch those who job jump for titles and pays sitting on the side line for a long time looking for an opportunities in the bad time. I see their resumes showing up all the time.

 

I also hire a significant number of people in my career and I see these people who come in thinking they are worth far more than they are, they can not explain all the changes in their jobs except for a title change. I find it interesting when a person is an engineer and they show they work at company A as a design engineer and then go to company B 2 yrs later and they are now a senior engineer and then 2 or 3 yrs later they are principle engineer at Company C. Really in 5 or 6 yrs you go from an entry level position to so Subject Matter Expert and the 3 jobs had little or nothing in common.

 

The problem in the Valley right now is there are more jobs than people who can do them so that will drive up salaries, this also create bad hiring behaviors, which is companies are desperate to find someone and here comes the job jumper who is only interesting in title change and more money but do not have the skills to back it up. I personally seen it multiply times in companies I worked for, they hire people only to regret doing so shortly thereafter, but you not going to let them go since they are a warm body and you need help.

 

If you really think you worth more, the real test is when the economy goes south companies get rid of those who they feel are over paid for the value they bring to the table.

 

I said this before, I have not seen any information present where any company said not to interview or hire someone from another company they openly applied for publicly posted job. I have seen they agree not to actively recruiter each other employees. I believe these people think that if that agreement was not in place then Apple or Google may have called them asking them to come work for them. Well you first have to be in the market for a job, and someone doing some snooping around asking if your interest is not say your actively in the market. I get head hunters calls all the time, most time for jobs I would never consider or I know my knowledge or skills are not a match, I get the call since they are looking for a referral to someone else I may know. 

 

You know we all like being wanted, and being wants help your position in negotiating a good pay.

post #36 of 51

I am neither jealous nor rich, on both counts you are wrong and who are you just a Tallest troll on this forum. First read the mails between Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt,read the full case and then come here and comment.  A poor recruiter was fired for what?  

 

When you have some rational statement i would like to discuss with you if not you can whine about your pathetic life.  Just because i am a fan or like a person doesn't mean i support every wrong doing by that person.  

post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

In the past there was the Age of Enlightenment. We're living in the Age of Entitlement.

Truer words have never been spoken.
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post #38 of 51

To quote posts, do not use the “Reply” button, as it does nothing. Use the “Quote” button.

 

Originally Posted by Pubby View Post
I am neither jealous nor rich

 

Never said you were either.

First read the mails between Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt, read the full case and then come here and comment.

 

Okay. No. How about answering my questions instead?

 

When you have some rational statement i would like to discuss with you if not you can whine about your pathetic life.  Just because i am a fan or like a person doesn't mean i support every wrong doing by that person.  

 

Good for you. Stick to the topic.

post #39 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


Absolutely. Toss that one in the perhaps unenforceable bin. As for your use of a physical gesture for an abstract idea I don't know why you think that would make it less abstract.

 

Yeah, the whole idea of a "locked" phone is abstract and non-physical.

post #40 of 51

I have to disagree with you on parts of your notes "I know for a fact that if you have the skills and knowledge and know how to make yourself valuable your company will keep you around and give you better jobs and pay you what you are really worth." 

 

Not sure where all you worked but Employers are not fair with employees all the time. In my previous companies i have seen people getting promoted /hired not based on their skills but rather based on "Who knows Who", people who suck up to their managers got promoted. Like you even i have been in the industry for a while and even i know how things work. You cannot say someone is not worth of something, as they can say the same about you.  

 

Don't say as if you know all the 7 billion population and you can assess their worthiness.  Why can't a engineer become an architect in 4-5 years? or subject matter expertise? Just because you have not seen them or you think its preposterous doesn't mean you are right and others are wrong. You can change jobs because you don't want to turn on/off lights and others can't?  

 

Feels like you belong to the HR department in one of these companies who drinks the coolaid that they are fair with everyone. 

 

 

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