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Justice Department investigating hiring practices of Apple, others

The United States Justice Department has begun a review of the hiring practices of a number of Silicon Valley technology companies, including Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Genetech for possible anti-trust law violations.

No details have been released by the Justice Department on the exact nature of the investigation. However, the Washington Post reports that the focus of the review seems to be on any agreements that may have been made between the companies to avoid recruiting employees from each other in a bid to maintain their market power unfairly. Such arrangements would stifle competition, violating anti-trust laws.

A similar report published by the New York Times cites "people with knowledge of the inquiry " as adding a few more details, mainly that Justice Department "has issued civil investigative demands, or formal requests for documents and information, to some of the companies involved."

Apple has recently become all too familiar with this type attention from the federal government. Just last month, the Federal Trade Commission started an inquiry to evaluate the ties between its boards of directors and that of Google's, which share two common Directors.

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, serves as a Director on Apple’s Board. The former CEO of Genentech, Arthur Levinson, serves as a Director on the Boards of both companies. This relationship between the two companies could be a violation of Section 8 of the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, according to regulators.

The Justice Department's inquiry into the hiring practices of some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names is the latest move by the Obama administration to sniff out anti-competitive behavior in the technology sector, where the highly competitive, high-stakes market for top talent has seen some companies sue their rivals for poaching employees.