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Apple and Google kept (unwritten) no poaching pact

While Schmidt sat on Jobsian board

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Prior to Google CEO Eric Schmidt stepping down from Apple's board of directors, the two companies had an unwritten agreement not to poach each other's employees, according to a new report.

Citing multiple Googlers, TechCrunch reports that although workers from each company were allowed to apply for jobs at the other outfit, Google agreed not to actively recruit Apple employees - and vice versa.

In early June, a Washington Post report revealed that the US Justice Department was investigating whether Google and Apple - among others - had violated anti-trust laws by negotiating this sort of recruiting freeze.

After publishing its original story, TechCrunch posted an purported email in which a Google recruiter backs off a potential hire after realizing they work for Apple. "Thanks for getting back to me. I don’t believe that we have been in contact previously - apologies if I am wrong about this," the email reads.

"From your reference to the [an Apple division], I take it that you are currently working there. If this is the case, we will not be able to proceed with your application. Google has an agreement with Apple that we will not cold call their staff. If you are not currently working at Apple and are interested in learning more about [a Google division] please let me know and I would be happy to chat with you."

TechCrunch says it's unclear whether the agreement is still in place now that Eric Schmidt has left the Apple board. It's also unclear whether Google and Apple were characteristically arrogant enough to keep the pact even after the DoJ launched its investigation.

Schmidt resigned from Apple's board less than a week ago, after three years in the position, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs saying that Schmidt's "effectiveness as an Apple Board member will be significantly diminished" now that Google is offering its own mobile operating system, Android, and developing its own netbook operating system, Chrome OS. The move came after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it was investigating the overlap between the two companies' boards.

And the FTC is still investigating. "We have been investigating the Google/Apple interlocking directorates issue for some time and commend them for recognizing that sharing directors raises competitive issues, as Google and Apple increasingly compete with each other," read a statement this week from bureau of competition director Richard Feinstein. "We will continue to investigate remaining interlocking directorates between the companies." ®

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