(Adds background on lawsuit)
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday approved a settlement between federal antitrust authorities and eBay Inc over allegations that eBay agreed to refrain from soliciting a rival company’s employees.
Under the deal, announced earlier this year, eBay said it would not make deals with other technology companies about poaching each others’ employees. U.S. District Judge Edward Davila approved eBay’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in a brief order.
Hiring in Silicon Valley has been increasingly scrutinized. Six companies including Apple and Google settled with federal authorities in 2010 over non-solicitation deals, without paying money. eBay agreed to pay $3.75 million to compensate workers impacted by the no-poach deals as part of a settlement with California antitrust regulators.
An eBay representative could not immediately be reached for comment. Earlier this year, the company said it believed that “the policy that prompted this lawsuit was acceptable and legal, and led to no anticompetitive effects in the talent market in which eBay competed.”
Last month, a different U.S. judge rejected a proposed $324.5 million settlement in a civil class action against Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe over similar allegations. That judge said the proposed settlement was too small.
eBay and Intuit reached a “handshake” agreement in 2006 involving executives including then-eBay chief executive Meg Whitman and Intuit founder Scott Cook, according to court documents. At the time Cook, who was serving on eBay’s board, complained about eBay poaching Intuit employees. Whitman is now chief executive at Hewlett-Packard Co.
Federal and state antitrust regulators sued eBay in 2012. Intuit had previously settled.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is United States of America vs. eBay Inc., 12-05869. (Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Bernard Orr)