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Report: Apple, Google agreed not to poach each other's workers

The two companies are said to have had an agreement not to actively recruit each other's employees--at least that is before Eric Schmidt stepped down from Apple's board.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt
Elinor Mills/CNET News

Apple and Google are said to have had an unofficial agreement not to poach each other's employees--or at least they did while Google CEO Eric Schmidt served on Apple's board, according to TechCrunch.

Unnamed sources told TechCrunch that no formal, written agreement exists, and that employees of one company were welcome to apply for jobs at the other, but that the two companies said they would not actively pursue hiring away each other's workers.

It is unclear whether any such agreement would still be in effect now that Eric Schmidt has stepped down from Apple's board of directors.

Such an agreement could stifle competition among companies that rely heavily on top-notch engineering talent. The Washington Post reported in June that the Justice Department had launched an industrywide investigation into whether companies, including Apple and Google, had violated antitrust laws by negotiating the recruitment and hiring of each other's workers.

Tech companies have waged fierce battles to keep top talent in their ranks. In one closely watched case, Microsoft sued Google in 2005 after it . The two parties eventually . In May, IBM filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent its former head of mergers and acquisitions, David Johnson, from joining Dell, saying it would be a violation of his contract. And last year, the company sued Mark Papermaster to keep him from joining Apple. IBM and Papermaster settled a few months later, and Papermaster eventually did start working at Apple.