Apple, Google, Others Settle Antitrust Probe Into Their Hiring Practices

Six major technology companies — Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Intel (NSDQ: INTC), Intuit, Adobe Systems (NSDQ: ADBE), and Pixar — will no longer agree not to poach employees from each other, as part of a settlement they just announced with the U.S. Department of Justice. The government began an investigation a year-and-a-half ago to determine whether the companies, along with a few others, broke antitrust law by colluding on hiring practices.

According to the Justice Department’s complaint, Apple and Google, Apple and Adobe, Apple and Pixar and Google and Intel all agreed not to “cold call” each other’s employees. Google also agreed not to solicit workers at Intuit. The agreement between Apple and Google dated back to 2006. Google was on a “Do Not Call List” at Apple, while Google listed Apple under its own “Do Not Cold Call List.” The other companies had similar arrangements.

As part of the settlement, which still needs to be approved by a judge, the companies are prohibited from “entering, maintaining or enforcing any agreement that in any way prevents any person from soliciting, cold calling, recruiting, or otherwise competing for employees.” When reports of the investigation first surfaced, other companies, including Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), were listed as possible targets, and indeed the Justice Department says it “continues to investigate other similar no solicitation agreements.”

The settlement removes another case from Google’s antitrust docket. Earlier this year, the Justice Department halted an investigation into overlap between the boards of Apple and Google after directors who served on both boards resigned. The Justice Department, however, continues to look into the Google Books settlement, as well as the company’s deal to purchase travel search firm ITA Software, however.