Judge Refuses to Dismiss Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google and Apple

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antitrust case google appleAs a result of allegedly entering an illegal anti-poaching agreement that prohibited the hiring of each other’s employees, some of the top technology companies in the world are now facing an antitrust lawsuit. The alleged anti-poaching agreement between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, and several other technology giants caused five software engineers to initiate a class-action lawsuit against their employers.

When a Google recruiter tried to hire an Apple engineer in 2007, Steve Jobs emailed Eric Schmidt to request that Google honor the agreement. Schmidt promptly fired the recruiter and emailed the staffing department the following message:

“I believe we have a policy of no recruiting from Apple and this is a direct inbound request. Can you get this stopped and let me know why this is happening? I will need to send a response back to Apple quickly so please let me know as soon as you can.”

The lawsuit, which is based on a violation of both the federal Sherman antitrust law and the California Cartwright act, claims that pay and job mobility were negatively affected due to the technology companies conspiring to prevent the recruitment of their employees. Although the technology companies requested that the court dismiss the lawsuit, on Wednesday night District Judge Lucy Koh indicated in her ruling that the evidence of the agreements was far too great to be ignored:

“The fact that all six identical bilateral agreements were reached in secrecy among seven defendants in a span of two years suggests that these agreements resulted from collusion, and not from coincidence.”

The defendants’ lawyers believe that thousands of employees were impacted by the agreement and that the direct damages will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Unless a settlement is reached prior to trial, the case is currently scheduled to be heard in June of 2013.

Sources Include: Reuters & ZDNet
Image Source: Shutterstock

David Angotti

David Angotti

After successfully founding and exiting an educational startup in 2009, I began helping companies with business development, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), conversion rate optimization (CRO), online marketing, mergers and acquisition, product development, and branding. Now, I am focused on a new startup in the travel and tourism market niche.
David Angotti
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  • http://www.techtrak.com Maureen Sharib

    From the Department of Justice’s OWN Settlement Announcement Sept 24, 2010:

    In the high technology sector, there is a strong demand for employees with advanced or specialized skills, the department said. One of the principal means by which high tech companies recruit these types of employees is to solicit them directly from other companies in a process referred to as, “cold calling.” This form of competition, when unrestrained, results in better career opportunities, the department said.

    IN MY OPINION one of the reasons this thing got legs in the first place is because the COLLECTIVE SIGH OF RELIEF that went up in the staffing depts (Cold call? Who wants to cold call?) over the fact they they weren’t REQUIRED TO COLD CALL OTHER COMPANY’S EMPLOYEES is why this travesty wasn’t internally challenged!

    It’s time the recruiting community GOT OVER their high and mighty disdain for the telephone and get on with things. This is going to be an interesting (and, for some expensive) lesson for everyone!

  • http://www.water-heaters-review.com Aaron

    It is difficult for the courts to make perfect judgements at this time. They are using pre-internet laws to regulate the internet. Until there is some progressive thinking where they protect the end users and still allow the big boys to make money and grow, I believe this will be a long battle. To site an example would be the Canadian banking system that has been highly regulated by the government for over a 100 years. The internet is still young in comparison, there is a middle ground that has to be reached on many levels before one can determine whether or not these laws will hold.