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More Silicon Valley Anti-Poaching Lawsuits Filed: 3 Things to Know

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 22, 2014 3:55 PM

The Silicon Valley anti-poaching mega-class-action has turned into quite the show: First, there were estimates that the suit could cost the companies involved (Adobe, Google, Intel, and Apple) billions in damages. Then, it settled for a relative pittance: $324 million. An objecting plaintiff, and a motion to intervene by a bunch of mass murderers later, the settlement was nuked and a trial date was set.

Now? While the four tech titans appeal Judge Lucy Koh's holding that the settlement was unreasonable, other lawyers are lining up to take on other tech companies that may have had similar anti-poaching agreements in place.

Here are five things to know about the latest Silicon Valley anti-poaching lawsuits:

1. Microsoft and Oracle Were Just Sued.

Last week, a class action lawsuit was filed against Microsoft (H/T to Courthouse News Service), saying that the company entered into anti-poaching agreements with several other tech companies in 2007. The agreements included a pact not to hire "manager level or above" employees, even if the candidate reached out.

Oracle was also recently sued for its own anti-poaching agreements, reports Ars Technica.

Microsoft noted, in a statement responding to the suit, that the Department of Justice investigated the claims against Microsoft and Oracle, as they did the claims against the defendants in the mega-class-action, yet only chose to bring a case against the earlier defendants.

"The plaintiffs omit the fact that Department of Justice looked into the same claims in 2009 and decided there was no reason to pursue a case against Microsoft. We're confident the court will determine the same in this case."

2. Two Types of Agreements: Anti-Solicitation and Restricted Hiring.

According to the complaint, there were two types of agreements: a less restrictive anti-solicitation agreement (in other words, no cold-calling) and a "restricted hiring" agreement, which barred hiring certain classes of employees. In Microsoft's case, that was the "manager level or above" designation.

3. A Matter of Time for These Companies...

Nobody knew about Microsoft and Oracle's involvement in the anti-poaching scandal until 2003, when a Google-restricted hiring policy was unearthed in the original class-action lawsuit.

They weren't the only new names on the list, either. According to Pando Daily, which posted a copy of the policy, the list includes AOL, Ask.com, Clear Channel Communications, Dell, Earthlink, Virgin Media, Comcast, DoubleClick, Genentech, IBM, Illumita, WPP, Ogilvy, and more.

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