A US judge on 2 March seemed satisfied with a proposed $415m (£267m) settlement that would end a lawsuit in which tech workers accused Apple, Google and two other Silicon Valley companies of conspiring to hold down salaries.
US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, had previously rejected an earlier $324.5m deal as too low. During a hearing on Monday, Koh raised no objections about the size of the settlement as she had at an earlier court session.
While Koh did not formally rule from the bench on whether she would preliminarily approve the new deal, she set another hearing date for final sign off.
The plaintiffs alleged that Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe agreed to avoid poaching each other's employees, thus limiting job mobility and, as a result, keeping a lid on salaries.
The antitrust class action lawsuit was filed in 2011. It has been closely watched because of the possibility that big damages might be awarded and for the opportunity to peek into the world of some of the United States' elite tech firms.
The case was based largely on emails in which Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, former Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt and some of their rivals detailed plans to avoid poaching each other's prized engineers.
In rejecting the $324.5 million deal, Koh repeatedly referred to a related 2013 settlement involving Disney and Intuit. Apple and Google workers got proportionally less than Disney workers, Koh wrote, even though plaintiff lawyers had "much more leverage" against Apple and Google.
To match the earlier settlement, the deal with Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe would need to total at least $380 million, Koh wrote.