In a major blow to Apple Inc, Google, Intel Corp and four other technology firms, a district judge in California ordered them to face an antitrust lawsuit claiming they illegally conspired not to poach each other's employees.
District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, rejected the companies' claims brought under the federal Sherman antitrust law and California's own antitrust law, the Cartwright Act.
The judge said that the existence of "Do Not Cold Call" agreements among various defendants "supports the plausible inference that the agreements were negotiated, reached, and policed at the highest levels" of the companies.
The fact that all six identical bilateral agreements were reached in secrecy among seven defendants in a span of two years suggests that these agreements resulted from collusion, and not from coincidence," Koh added.
Koh also dismissed the claims by Adobe Systems Inc, Intuit Inc, Walt Disney Co's Pixar unit and Lucasfilm Ltd. brought under California's unfair competition law.