Apple, Google, and five other companies must face lawsuit over no-poaching agreements

Late last week we told you that the U.S. Justice Department apparently had evidence that Apple, along along with Google, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, Intel, and Lucasfilms, entered “no-poach” agreements as part of an antitrust investigation from 2010. U.S. District Judge Lucy H Koh made a statement yesterday at the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., confirming the companies must face a lawsuit. According to the report from Bloomberg, Koh said she would allow plaintiffs to re-file their complaint even if an initial request by the defendants to dismiss the claims is granted.  

Judge Koh’s decision yesterday will result in Google and the other companies having to provide a detailed account of the agreements made with other companies. They must also allow lawyers to take depositions. One lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Joseph Saveri, said, “We get to see what really happened,” claiming the case could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Google provided statements to Bloomberg claiming they have “always actively and aggressively recruited top talent,” while the others have declined to comment.

The lawsuit stems from a private complaint made by employees of the companies, which according to Bloomberg mirrors complaints settled with the U.S. Justice Department following an initial antitrust probe in 2010. The settlement in 2010 resulted in the companies agreeing to not place “cold calls” to encourage employees of other companies to jump ship. According to one lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the current lawsuit, the judge is looking for “an overarching conspiracy between all the companies,” and not necessarily the agreements made between any individual employees or companies.

In the settlement that resulted from the 2010 probe, the Justice Department claimed the companies kept “do-not-call” lists to avoid issues of poaching, but also said the agreements could hurt competition and employees. According to the Department, Apple and Adobe executives entered an agreement in 2005 agreeing “not to cold-call each other’s employees.” The report also claimed Apple and Google created a do-not-call list in 2006, while Apple and Pixar, as well as Google, all entered similar agreements with Intuit and Intel in 2007.

We will keep you posted as the case continues.

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Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.