When a Google recruiter emailed an Apple employee in 2007 about a possible opening, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs discovered the email and quickly forwarded it to his counterpart at Google, CEO Eric Schmidt. “I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this,” Jobs wrote.
In another email exchange that year, Schmidt told Intel CEO Paul Otellini, “If we find a recruiter called into Intel, we will terminate the recruiter. We take these relationships [between companies]exceptionally seriously.”
In the stipulated final judgments, defendants did not admit any wrongdoing but agreed to be “enjoined from attempting to enter into, maintaining or enforcing any agreement with any other person or in any way refrain[ing] [from] soliciting, cold calling, recruiting, or otherwise competing for employees.” Under the Clayton Antitrust Act, the final judgments had no prima facie effect in any subsequent private lawsuit bound to come.
In fact, in 2011, engineers at the investigated companies filed a class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claiming an aggrieved class consisting of as many as 100,000 employees.