The complaint alleges Apple and Google executives agreed not to call each other's employees starting in 2006. Similar agreements were allegedly made between Apple and Adobe and Apple and Pixar. Intel and Google struck another deal in 2007, which Google later extended to Intuit as well. The government argues the agreements interfered with the market's price-setting mechanisms and artificially depressed employee wages.
"None of the agreements was limited by geography, job function, product group or time period. Thus, they were broader than reasonably necessary for any collaboration between the companies," Justice said in a statement.
In a blog post published Friday Google associate general counsel for employment Amy Lambert said Google entered into the agreements to preserve its working relationships with the other companies. She notes Google still recruited and hired hundreds of employees from the other firms despite its pledge not to cold call them.
"While there’s no evidence that our policy hindered hiring or affected wages, we abandoned our 'no cold calling' policy in late 2009 once the Justice Department raised concerns, and are happy to continue with this approach as part of this settlement," Lambert wrote.
A spokesman for Intel dismissed the allegations and said his firm agreed to settle in order to put the matter to rest at no cost to the business.
"Intel and the other companies have agreed not enter into agreements with other companies that prohibit the use of so called 'cold calling' and other recruiting methods except in certain circumstances," said Intel spokesman Chuck Malloy in response to a request for comment. "Intel does not believe its actions violated the law nor does the company agree with the allegations. The company is settling the matter because it believes it would not harm the company or its ability to do business."