U.S. settles with eBay over pact to not poach employees

WASHINGTON Fri May 2, 2014 12:01am IST

An eBay logo is projected onto white boxes in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw, January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files

An eBay logo is projected onto white boxes in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw, January 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The online auction company eBay Inc has settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department by agreeing to refrain from making deals with other technology companies to not poach employees, according to court papers filed on Thursday.

In the lawsuit, filed in 2012, eBay and Intuit Inc were accused of agreeing not to recruit each others' employees, the Justice Department said in a news release.

"EBay's agreement with Intuit served no purpose but to limit competition between the two firms for employees, distorting the labor market and causing employees to lose opportunities for better jobs and higher pay," said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general for antitrust at the Justice Department.

The lawsuit, and similar legal issues involving other technology companies, highlight the intense competition for talent in Silicon Valley. In this case, a "handshake" agreement between eBay and Intuit came into place in 2006 and involved executives including then-eBay chief executive Meg Whitman and Intuit founder Scott Cook, according to court documents. At the time, Cook was serving on eBay's board and complained about eBay poaching Intuit employees. Federal and state antitrust regulators sued eBay in 2012.

Intuit was not named as a defendant because it was already part of a wide-ranging 2010 lawsuit that federal officials brought against six technology companies, including Apple and Google. Those companies settled.

EBay did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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