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eBay accused of violating antitrust laws with Intuit accord

The Justice Department says eBay made an illegal agreement not to poach Intuit employees.

eBay violated antitrust laws when it agreed not to poach employees at Intuit, according to a federal lawsuit filed today in federal court in San Jose.

According to the complaint, which was filed by the U.S. Justice Department, eBay and Intuit had an agreement not to raid each other's businesses for talent. eBay, the online marketplace, is headquartered in San Jose; Intuit is based in nearby Mountain View.

"This agreement harmed employees by lowering the salaries and benefits they might otherwise have commanded, and deprived these employees of better job opportunities at the other company," lawyers for the government said, in a copy of the suit obtained by Bloomberg.

California filed a similar complaint against eBay today, with California Attorney General Kamala Harris saying the agreements violate state laws in addition to federal laws, Bloomberg reported.

Notably, Intuit -- maker of financial software including TurboTax and QuickBooks -- is not named as a defendant in the suit.

"EBay Inc. strongly believes that the Department of Justice and California Attorney General are wrong and are using the wrong standard in these matters," eBay spokeswoman Lara Wyss said in an e-mail. "We compete openly for talent in a broad, diverse global market across a range of industries and professional disciplines, and eBay's hiring practices conform to the standards that the Department of Justice has approved in resolving cases against other companies. The DOJ and State Attorney General are taking an overly aggressive interpretation in their enforcement of antitrust law in this area. EBay will vigorously defend itself."