May Antitrust Bulletin

May 8, 2014

Settlements Reached in Anti-Poaching Suits

A group of tech companies – including Google Inc., Intel Corp. and Adobe Systems, Inc. – have settled antitrust claims by a class of software engineers alleging that the tech companies entered into agreements not to poach each other’s employees. According to the software engineers, the alleged conduct had the effect of depressing salaries by 10-15 percent, causing approximately $3 billion in damages. The defendants dispute any wrongdoing. The terms of the settlement have not been announced yet, but the parties are expected to file the settlement agreement with the court on May 27, 2014.

In addition, eBay Inc. reached settlements with the Department of Justice and the State of California regarding an alleged agreement between eBay and Intuit, Inc., not to recruit each other’s employees. If approved, the DOJ settlement will prohibit eBay from entering into or maintaining anticompetitive agreements relating to employee hiring and retention for a period of five years. Pursuant to the California settlement, eBay will pay $3.75 million, a portion of which will compensate employees and prospective employees of eBay and Intuit.

Extradited Executive Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

As previously reported, last month marked the DOJ’s first successful extradition on an antitrust charge. Romano Pisciotti – an Italian national indicted for participating in a conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices and allocate market shares of marine hose – was extradited from Germany in early April. On April 24, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison. He will receive credit for the nine months and 16 days he was held in custody by the German government pending his extradition. Pisciotti also agreed to pay a $50,000 criminal fine.

DOJ and FTC Issue Policy Statement on Sharing Cybersecurity Information

On April 10, 2014, the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission issued a joint policy statement to give companies guidance regarding the sharing of cybersecurity information. The policy clarifies that legitimate exchanges of real-time cyberthreat and cyberattack information, even among competitors, is not likely to raise antitrust concerns. The policy explains that this information is highly technical in nature and therefore is very different from the sharing of competitively sensitive information such as current and future prices or output. Furthermore, the policy recognizes that such information exchanges have procompetitive effects, because they reduce costs, which ultimately benefits consumers.

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