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DOJ Investigates Google, Apple, and Others For 'No Poaching' Agreement 360

CSHARP123 writes "The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the 'No Poaching' agreement between Apple and Google in 2010, but details of the case were only made public for the first time yesterday. TechCrunch was the first to sift through the documents, and has uncovered some ostensibly incriminating evidence against not only Google and Apple, but Pixar, Lucasfilm, Adobe, Intel, and Intuit, as well. According to the filings from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, these companies did indeed enter 'no poach' agreements with each other, and agreed to refrain from soliciting employees. The documents also indicate they collectively sought to limit their employees' power to negotiate for higher salaries."
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DOJ Investigates Google, Apple, and Others For 'No Poaching' Agreement

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:29AM (#38761612)

    You're implying that it's better to have the potential to gain $50,000 million with high risk than $5,000 million with low risk.

    The greatest fallacy of capitalist philosophers is to forget that the system is run by people, and people only live for a small amount of time and with relatively modest material needs.

    The greatest success of capitalist practitioners is to take advantage of this and tell the average man that competition is healthy while succeeding at the top through cooperation.

    Like Abbott said, white men like to play the game of divide and rule. It has been the crowning principle of the British empire and all its ideological descendants.

  • Ooooohh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:34AM (#38761672) Homepage Journal

    Get a load of that coincidence. it 'coincides' just 2 days after sopa protests, and involves almost all major technology companies that have major stakes on internet. Just like how the megaupload bust 'coincided' a day after sopa protests, yesterday.

  • Re:Not evil? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by It doesn't come easy ( 695416 ) * on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:37AM (#38761718) Journal
    Google went from "Do No Evil" to "Amoral Megacorp" in record time. It's the age we live in (everything happens faster).
  • by webheaded ( 997188 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:42AM (#38761804) Homepage
    Yeah, and while the people are waiting for this eventual collapse, what then? Oh, right, they're just screwed. What a great solution. Saying to let the market decide ignores the fact that these things take time and people get screwed during that time. Yeah, maybe it will EVENTUALLY sort itself out, but in the mean time, we have to put up with something like this and that is bullshit. Laissez-faire was proven pretty early on to be a completely useless government policy and yet people still trot that out like it's some new insight; it is not unlike like trickle down economics. It doesn't work, we know it doesn't work, and yet people still bring it up as a valid argument.
  • by spopepro ( 1302967 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:42AM (#38761806)
    It's funny that this drops the same day as the Fortune list of best companies to work for. I see many name here at the top of that list. Not quite sure what to think... I dislike secret corporate agreements, especially to keep salaries down, but I had a fellowship at Intel and found it to be a really good environment, and my colleagues thought so too. At the same time one couldn't help but to notice the incredible number of green badges (contractors) used while Intel posts record quarters. I suppose when you are as big as Intel, it's nearly impossible to be all good, or all evil.
  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:43AM (#38761824)
    how long has the western banking cartel endured? (at least four centuries). How about the deBeers diamond cartel? what on earth makes you make such a bullshit assertion?
  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:46AM (#38761854)

    There was a funny case involving Dow Chemicals and a German Chemical Cartel.

    From []

    Critics of laws against predatory pricing may support their case empirically by arguing that there has been no instance where such a practice has actually led to a monopoly. Conversely, they argue that there is much evidence that predatory pricing has failed miserably. For example, Herbert Dow not only found a cheaper way to produce bromine but also defeated a predatory pricing attempt by the government-supported German cartel Bromkonvention, who objected to his selling in Germany at a lower price. Bromkonvention retaliated by flooding the US market with below-cost bromine, at an even lower price than Dow's. But Dow simply instructed his agents to buy up at the very low price, then sell it back in Germany at a profit but still lower than Bromkonvention's price. In the end, the cartel could not keep up selling below cost, and had to give in. This is used as evidence that the free market is a better way to stop predatory pricing than regulations such as anti-trust laws.

  • Re:Who's Missing? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by clodney ( 778910 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:51AM (#38761940)

    Or maybe because they don't have a large employee base in Silicon Valley?

    Certainly MS will pay to relocate desirable employees, but moving to Seattle means that the poaching back and forth of ordinary employees is less likely.

  • Re:cartels (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:51AM (#38761944)

    That is why there would be hell to pay.

  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:08PM (#38762218) Homepage Journal

    So Google offered me less in salary than they might have without this agreement. I wonder if I could sue them for lost income.

  • Facebook? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:32PM (#38762628)

    From what I hear, this whole cozy arrangement has been disrupted by Facebook, which started poaching techies from all of the above with higher pay...

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:02PM (#38763190)

    By the very nature of a union, it must be public in order to gain members and perform actions like strikes

    Wow. You are either incredibly naive and ignorant of history (which includes time periods like earlier this morning), or you are a very, very bad union shill that should explore other work before they start the decade-long process of trying to fire you, if they can, or simply wack you, because that involves fewer hearings.

    Unions are famous for being run be people who conduct back-room political deals. Negotiations over things like pay and contract terms are held behind closed doors. Turf agreements between two overlapping unions involve lots of hidden negotiations and payoffs (consider, for example, how the Long Shoremen and the Teamsters decide at which mark on the concrete at the dock each of their guys must stop what they're doing and hand the task over to someone else). Entities like that wheel and deal out of view of their members and the public all the time. Agreements between unions (just like the agreements alluded to between Apple and Google) are made to benefit the two parties who agree on mutual behavior. Big Labor is every bit as careful to maximize their power, revenue, influence, and the pay made by their managers as any other large entity with a profit motive.

    Ever worked a trade show in a place like Chicago or Las Vegas? No? You have absolutely no idea what the hell you're talking about.

  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:03PM (#38763214)
    I'm near 50, I used to work in manufacturing plant in the Chicago Stockyards (an industrial park that includes rendering plants but also machine, fab, and factories). Every now and then the smell from the hog rendering plant would be a bit off, maybe my imagination but kind of smelling like maybe some hair, bones and toenails in the mix.....just sayin.....
  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @02:05PM (#38764328) Journal

    "Personally, I'm okay with contracts like that."

    How much worse does it have to get? Your agreement said that you couldn't perform the same job for six months after leaving. Working the same job when you switch from company to company is called a career. Fortunately that non-compete effectively prevents you from working in your chosen profession (software developer) and any non-compete that does so is null and void legally AFAIK.

    BTW having now read TFA it clearly states that the anti-poaching agreements prevented the companies from hiring each others workers even if they voluntarily applied for the position.

    "Initrode sent letters to everybody they could contact as Initech, trying to recruit Initech's talent as their own. To me, that's the bad part of poaching, because it's clearly intended to specifically hurt competitors, and it cuts the public out of the chance to apply."

    I disagree. Competition is a good thing. When they are trying to recruit the talent from the other company they are also offering them a higher salary. This results in increasing average salaries in that profession. That is good for pretty much everyone. If Initech is paying their employees a generous wage and benefit package then Initrode won't have much luck.

    The only reason for not wanting this is because companies don't want to have to offer and maintain generous wage and benefits packages. Companies want to cheat by hiring employees with less skill but raw potential at a low salary, encourage and sometimes even force those employees to develop their skills but keep them at a salary in the ballpark of their entry level skill set even though they now possess a skill set worth far more. Training in house is a valid strategy for having staff with a known skill set and competency and for minimizing the cost of those who don't work out. It isn't a valid strategy for avoiding paying competitive wages for their talent after it is developed.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by undeadbill ( 2490070 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @02:53PM (#38765256)

    Yep, I had to save up for a 6 month "vacation" when I last switched jobs in the SF Bay area. I had been working for one of the data center providers that serviced most of the companies in the region. Tied to their hosting contract, was a do not hire clause with a six month window, and I was told by HR that the only reason it wasn't "illegal" was because the agreement wasn't between the employee and company directly. It has been an open secret for some time that most of the major players also have these agreements in place. It is particularly frustrating, and effectively the same as a black list (which is illegal in CA), so I'm glad the practice is finally being investigated.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) on Friday January 20, 2012 @03:13PM (#38765646) Journal
    To be perfectly honest, if I had to sit around for 10 years (properly funded, mind you, so I won't starve and can still function in the economy) I would have my own killer product and/or software at the end of that time in a totally unrelated field.

    I certainly wouldn't mind someone paying me to stay at home for a year - right now I have a few feasible products that I could develop if I could just get the time...

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.