No Poach Hiring Agreements, Justice Department Rules

Tech companies often have agreements to protect their intellectual property. Sometimes it's done through new hire non-disclose agreements, and sometimes companies have individual agreements with competitors. The Department of Justice said Thursday it reached a settlement with eBay that prevents the company from entering into or maintaining agreements with other companies restraining employee recruitment and hiring.

The U.S. department allege that senior executives and directors of eBay and Intuit entered into an agreement prior to 2006 that prevented each firm from recruiting employees from the other. It also prohibited eBay from hiring Intuit employees who approached eBay.

It's not clear whether these agreements exist today, but an email shows that one between Google and Apple existed in 2007. In March of that year, Eric Schmidt -- then Google CEO and Apple board member -- sent an email to Steve Jobs alerting him that Google would terminate a recruiter who had contacted an Apple employee in violation of a "'do not call' policy between the companies."

It's difficult to say whether those commitments still exist -- otherwise Marissa Mayer might not have been poached from Google to become Yahoo CEO.

There's a long list of respected and valuable execs who have left one competitor for another. Last year Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Microsoft engineer and software designer focusing on augmented reality and Bing Maps, left the company to join rival Google.

After years of success, some leave the tech companies without admitting where they will end up, such as the case with Vic Gundotra, the longtime Google exec who led Google+ since inception, who announced the move in a Google+ post. "I am excited about what's next," he wrote. "But this isn't the day to talk about that." 

"Cracked Egg" photo from Shutterstock.

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