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New Evidence Seems to Confirm Apple's Poaching Lawsuit

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on January 20, 2012 12:41 PM

Things aren't looking too great for the defendants in an antitrust class action filed by Silicon Valley's high-tech workers.

The suit accuses Google, Apple, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Adobe, Intel and Intuit of illegally agreeing not to "poach" one another's employees. A Justice Department investigation into the matter settled in September 2010, but it is only now that some of that evidence has been released.

The evidence appears to validate many of the claims made in the Apple poaching lawsuit.

The "no poaching" agreements are alleged to have stifled competition in the high-tech job market, according to TechCrunch. The companies involved agreed not to solicit one another's employees, and to notify an employer in the case of an unsolicited job application.

New court documents show that such agreements existed as far back as 2005.

An email sent by Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen to Steve Jobs includes forwarded text stating, "Bruce and Steve Jobs have an agreement that we are not to solicit ANY Apple employees, and vice versa."

An email from Pixar details a conversation with Apple during which the parties entered into a "gentleman's agreement" similar to that between Apple and Lucasfilm.

The executives of these companies also sat on one another's boards, according to the court filing. The Justice Department alleged they all knew about the agreements and worked together to "eliminate competition for talent and suppress compensation."

With proof of the "no poaching" agreements, the companies will need to focus on antitrust law itself. That issue will be decided by Judge Koh in San Jose. She has scheduled a case management conference for the Apple poaching lawsuit on January 26.

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