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Poaching lawsuit to go forward, targeting Apple, Google, others

A U.S. District Judge rejects calls to dismiss an antitrust suit, after allegations were made that Apple, Google, and others illegally "poached" each others' employees.

Apple, Google, and Intel, along with four other major technology companies, were court-ordered to face an antitrust lawsuit over claims they colluded not to "poach" each others' employees.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who had previously presided over Apple vs. Samsung patent cases, rejected the companies' attempt to squash the case brought, reports Reuters.

Apple's downtown San Francisco store.
Apple's downtown San Francisco store. Apple

Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm are also subject to the antitrust suit.

A class action suit was brought by five software engineers, who accused the technology giants of conspiring to lower employee pay by removing competition for skilled labor.

An investigation by the U.S. Justice Dept. in 2010 led to the companies saying they will refrain from cold-calling employees of competing firms in efforts to hire them.

Reports suggest that the judge was not all too bothered by the practice of poaching each others' workers, more so "how it ties together," suggesting that the companies colluded in order to prevent the practice from continuing.

ZDNet's Chris Dawson noted, a "polite" email was sent in 2007 from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs sent to then-Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, asking him to stop poaching Apple employees.

"I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this," Jobs' e-mail to Schmidt said.

In 2009, Apple and Google were said to have had an "unofficial agreement" not to poach each other's employees, or at least while Eric Schmidt served on Apple's board. While no formal arrangement existed, it was noted at the time that there still could be a stifling of competition among companies that rely on the best of the best in software engineering talent.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Apple, Google, others fail to dismiss 'poaching' antitrust suit."