eBay sued over will-not-recruit agreement with Intuit

WASHINGTON Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:41pm EST

A photograph of a computer screen showing the website eBay is shown here in Encinitas, California April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A photograph of a computer screen showing the website eBay is shown here in Encinitas, California April 22, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department and the state of California sued online retailer eBay Inc on Friday over what they called an illegal agreement with Intuit Inc not to recruit Intuit's employees.

The agreement eliminated competition for workers, depriving them of access to better job opportunities, the Justice Department and California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in simultaneous news releases.

Meg Whitman, then eBay's CEO, and Scott Cook, Intuit's founder, were intimately involved in forming and enforcing the agreement, federal officials said.

EBay said the government is wrong and that it will vigorously defend itself.

"EBay's hiring practices conform to the standards that the Department of Justice has approved in resolving cases against other companies. The DOJ is taking an overly aggressive interpretation in their enforcement of antitrust law in this area," said eBay spokeswoman Lara Wyss.

Tax and financial software company Intuit, which faced similar antitrust allegations in 2010 and settled, called the new lawsuits a matter for eBay.

"We have already resolved any concerns that the DOJ had about our recruiting practices and believe the matter for Intuit is closed," said Intuit spokeswoman Diane Carlini.

The "handshake" agreement was in effect from 2006 until 2009 or later, federal officials said. During that time, eBay's recruiting staff were instructed to throw away resumes that came from Intuit employees, the officials said.

Federal antitrust enforcers have "consistently taken the position that these kinds of agreements are per se unlawful under the antitrust laws," said Joseph Wayland, acting head of the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division.

The lawsuits target eBay only because Intuit was already a defendant in a wide-ranging 2010 lawsuit that federal officials brought against six technology companies. Intuit signed a settlement agreement with the government that federal officials call sufficient to prevent similar conduct in the future.

The eBay case grew out of the same wide-ranging investigation, officials said.

A proposed class action pending in federal court in California also addresses anti-poaching agreements among the six technology companies: Adobe Systems Inc, Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Corp, Intuit and Pixar.

(Reporting by David Ingram.; Editing by Bernard Orr and Andre Grenon)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
Naqvaun wrote:
As a software developer who works in California, thank god. Non-compete and non-poaching contracts foster anti-competitive behavior.

Nov 16, 2012 6:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
sonic7777 wrote:
Well said. The last time someone mentioned a “will-not” I don’t think they meant it was an agreement. Possibly the worst example of someone that can’t make a sentence but the fact that “will-not” is being used is hilarious!

Nov 17, 2012 5:42am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.