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Google, Yahoo!, Apple Targeted In DoJ Antitrust Probe

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the hand-in-the-cookie-jar dept.

United States 166

suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from the Washington Post: "The Justice Department has launched an investigation into whether some of the nation's largest technology companies violated antitrust laws by negotiating the recruiting and hiring of one another's employees, according to two sources with knowledge of the review. The review, which is said to be in its preliminary stages, is focused on Google; its competitor Yahoo; Apple; and the biotech firm Genentech, among others, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The sources said the review includes other tech companies and is 'industry-wide.' By agreeing not to hire away top talent, the companies could be stifling competition and trying to maintain their market power unfairly, antitrust experts said. ... Obama's antitrust chief at the Justice Department, Christine Varney, has said she plans to look at the network effects of high-tech companies and how their grasp on markets has cut out competitors and hurt consumers."

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Good (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196041)

From TFA:

By agreeing not to hire away top talent, the companies could be stifling competition and trying to maintain their market power unfairly, antitrust experts said...In 2005, Microsoft sued Google for hiring away Kai-Fu Lee...

Good. Hopefully these actions will lead to the outlawing of vaguely wide-ranging NDAs which state that employees may not work for "competitors" for X years after leaving their companies. I wish that TFA provided the list of all the companies because they didn't mention whether or not Microsoft was in the list despite their example above.

Antitrust experts say that could include wireless carriers and software operators that may be blocking certain applications from running on their networks and devices.

Let's hope so.

Re:Good (5, Informative)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196083)

Hopefully these actions will lead to the outlawing of vaguely wide-ranging NDAs which state that employees may not work for "competitors" for X years after leaving their companies.

Why would it? That has absolutely nothing to do with what this probe is about. Secondly, such non-compete contracts are already illegal in California which already covers Google, Apple, Yahoo! and Genetech already.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196147)

And generally non-competes are ignored in other states as well I applaud California for legislatively declaring them illegal. Companies already operate at an advantage compared to individuals. They should not be able to take away my livelihood when we decide to part ways. If I am employed "at will" by them, then the business arrangement should be symmetrical. If they are willing to offer me a generous severance package, then I imagine they can have a say on where I end up. But even that should be limited.

Maybe not (0)

HubHikari (1217396) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197077)

MLNN, if you think about it, a non-compete is a good idea, IF you happen to be in a sensitive position. If you worked for Google for a number of years and had an intimate knowledge of how their searching algorithm worked, would the brass really want you going to Yahoo with that knowledge being current? It would reduce Google's effectiveness as a company, and what's more, that's their proprietary data, which you might then pass on to another company.

Re:Maybe not (2, Insightful)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197197)

If he's really worth it, the former employee should be paid to not work for the competition.

Re:Maybe not (1)

geber22 (1342241) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197323)

MLNN, if you think about it, a non-compete is a good idea, IF you happen to be in a sensitive position. If you worked for Google for a number of years and had an intimate knowledge of how their searching algorithm worked, would the brass really want you going to Yahoo with that knowledge being current? It would reduce Google's effectiveness as a company, and what's more, that's their proprietary data, which you might then pass on to another company.

A good idea for who? If I worked for Google and acquired knowledge of how their search engine works, that's my knowledge, it leaves with me. If they don't want me to acquire that knowledge they should do the work themselves. NDA's are complete crap, they are protectionism at it's best, and completely against the principles of a free market.

Re:Maybe not (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197769)

There are already *seperate* rules in place right now to prevent that from happening. Its called software patents, and until they go away they will be used. Once software patents are gone there will have to be some other Trade Secret law [wikipedia.org] (US specific example here [wikipedia.org] ) or something to protect the companies I guess...

BS! (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197331)

I disagree! If he is so valuable to his employer that having him work for a competitor would be disastrous for the company, then he should be compensated. The best way would to give him a large enough salary so he would not be tempted to leave the company. As a second method, the company should pay his current salary if they prevent him from working for a competitor. At the very least, they should be obligated to pay the difference if his new salary is less PLUS a fixed amount more.

Re:Maybe not (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28197389)

The point is, if your skills are sufficiently specialized, the ONLY possible work you could find is at your competition, so you are kept from finding work in your field. That is why non competes are illegal

Re:Maybe not (1)

sy5t3m (1349857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197575)

Trade secrets [wikipedia.org] should cover that.

Re:Maybe not (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28197697)

If you worked for Google for a number of years and had an intimate knowledge of how their searching algorithm worked, would the brass really want you going to Yahoo with that knowledge being current?

That is why Non-Disclosure Agreements exist. I imagine that Google could easily determine whether a leak on their proprietary technology occurred, and they could take appropriate action if it did.

The difference between an NDA and a Non-Compete speaks to a fundamental difference in philosophy in law/contract enforcement. The NDA, at its most ideal, is supposed to establish that Google's trade secrets are their property, and sharing them with Yahoo constitutes theft. There is nothing in the contract to stop the employee from working at Yahoo, but if trade secrets are leaked there will be consequences. However, a Non-Compete is usually tacked onto this contract and it says, "not only can you not share trade secrets, but we are placing additional constraints on what you (otherwise legally) can do based on what we think would lead up to this (illegal) act."

Let's extrapolate that to law enforcement. We as a society agree on acts that are, without question, illegal. However, a certain number of perfectly legal actions must normally take place before the execution of this legal act. For example, in order to shoot somebody, it is necessary to have a gun. Owning a gun is perfectly legal and, depending on who you talk to, is a natural right enumerated in the Constitution. Does it make sense that legislators have placed restrictions on owning a gun, quite possibly in opposition of the Second Amendment?

For those here who are more focused on the First and Fourth Amendments (though you should really care about all of them) here's another example. A terrorist is planning an attack on a building; a clearly illegal and horrible act. To maximize damage, a plan must be created; this would include surveying the structure of the building. A way to do that is to take pictures, once again perfectly legal in theory. So, certain people in authority got the bright idea to ban taking pictures of public buildings in order to (IMO ineffectively) prevent an attack.

This may seem to be completely off-topic to this part of the conversation (NDAs and non-competes) but it really is not. They all bring up a fundamental question in how far we should go in preventing blatantly evil crimes from occurring. If we make so-called "steps to an illegal act" into crimes, how far should we go in prevent these "crimes" from occurring? I think that the concept of a non-compete shows that we've gone too far, and the courts seem to agree with that notion. No, I am not advocating a completely reactive scenario (i.e., don't bother doing anything until the damage is done) but there has to be a better balance than what we have now.

Re:Maybe not (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28198097)

That's precisely why my father-in-law's employer paid him well for a few years after his retirement. It was a good deal for him, and it kept him away from competitors.

Re:Good (It's not about non-compete) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28197973)

It's not about non-compete agreements between employer and employee. It's about standard boilerplate language in most IT contracts that stipulates that the parties to the agreement won't induce the other parties employees to leave. The usual recourse for the employee is to respond to a public job posting from one of the parties. Nothing sinister here, just companies attempting to protect their most valuable assets, their employees.

After the probe (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28196043)

Their anuses look like this [goatse.fr] .

antitrust, et al. (4, Insightful)

megrims (839585) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196057)

Why do we trust google, again?

Re:antitrust, et al. (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196237)

Because they are not Microsoft. And because they are competing successfully against Microsoft. Nothing more.

Power corrupts. Doesn't matter if the person with power has shit that doesn't stink. By nature, the stronger person will eventually abuse his power. It may not even seem that way to the person with the power, but it will happen. Same is even more true with organizations. They are more complex, less personal. As Google collects more data, as its reach becomes bigger and as time goes on, the abuse will surface. Not that Google is any better or worse than anyone else, it is their success that will do it. And when Google's "Do No Evil" becomes "Well, maybe a little evil", they will make Microsoft look like an amateur.

(And thank you Slashdot for making me wait five minutes between posts. Excellent Karma, get mod points yet have to wait. And when I use the email link to report the problem, my email gets ignored. Brilliant)

Re:antitrust, et al. (1, Insightful)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197267)

Power corrupts. Doesn't matter if the person with power has shit that doesn't stink. By nature, the stronger person will eventually abuse his power.

Good point. Would you apply this to the political parties as well?
I mean the democratic party is getting way too powerful - are Obama's Doj people going to look into that as well?

Re:antitrust, et al. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197345)

It makes me wait 60 seconds, not 5 minutes.

Re:antitrust, et al. (1)

WebmasterNeal (1163683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197465)

That whole waiting in between posts is really annoying. I totally agree with you.

Re:antitrust, et al. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28197555)

(And thank you Slashdot for making me wait five minutes between posts. Excellent Karma, get mod points yet have to wait. And when I use the email link to report the problem, my email gets ignored. Brilliant)

Power corrupts. Doesn't matter if the person with power has shit that doesn't stink. By nature, the stronger person will eventually abuse his power. It may not even seem that way to the person with the power, but it will happen.

Slashdot has the power; you don't.

Re:antitrust, et al. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197691)

That was the argument to like Microsoft and hate IBM.

Re:antitrust, et al. (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197701)

Power corrupts. Doesn't matter if the person with power has shit that doesn't stink. By nature, the stronger person will eventually abuse his power. It may not even seem that way to the person with the power, but it will happen. Same is even more true with organizations. They are more complex, less personal. As Google collects more data, as its reach becomes bigger and as time goes on, the abuse will surface. Not that Google is any better or worse than anyone else, it is their success that will do it. And when Google's "Do No Evil" becomes "Well, maybe a little evil", they will make Microsoft look like an amateur.

That's ridiculous. Power doesn't even corrupt at all; it merely attracts the corruptible.

Re:antitrust, et al. (3, Interesting)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197955)

Way to confound economic power with political power. Corruption, violation of rights and contracts, none of that is possible without a hand in politics, ie, a politician willing to pass/enforce laws that harm others and violate their rights.

Re:antitrust, et al. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28198001)

Power corrupts.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
And it absolutely rocks to have absolute power.

(to paraphrase Despair.com which has a cool poster on the topic)

Re:antitrust, et al. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28198113)

Power corrupts. Doesn't matter if the person with power has shit that doesn't stink. By nature, the stronger person will eventually abuse his power. It may not even seem that way to the person with the power, but it will happen. Same is even more true with organizations.

/me Reads the above...
/me Looks at the Obama Administration over the past 5 months...
/me Looks at the now State owned Banks, Auto Manufacturers, and the profitable local auto dealers forced into bankruptcy...
/me Changes this post to Anonymous and hides his wallet

Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (-1, Troll)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196265)

Would you have voted for BHO if you knew he was going to make a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court who is pro-RIAA and that under BHO's administration we'd see Google, Apple come under major Antitrust scrutiny (but not Microsoft)? What are your thoughts?

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196299)

Would you have voted for BHO if you knew he was going to make a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court who is pro-RIAA

Wow, way to blow completely out of proportion that article that was posted yesterday that was about a singular ruling that she made like a decade ago.

and that under BHO's administration we'd see Google, Apple come under major Antitrust scrutiny (but not Microsoft)? What are your thoughts?

Who says they aren't going after Microsoft in this probe? The four listed companies weren't an exhaustive list of everyone being probed.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1, Interesting)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196399)

Oh I don't know [arstechnica.com] He has been doing favors for all his supporters, Like those car Dealerships whom supported him somehow manage to stay open.

But if you want to keep Diluting yourself into "hope and change" then don't mind me, go right ahead.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (5, Informative)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196437)

Oh I don't know [arstechnica.com] He has been doing favors for all his supporters, Like those car Dealerships whom supported him somehow manage to stay open.

Nice red herring, but it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that teh whole uproar over Sotomayor was based on a single ruling out of all of her years in the federal judiciary. One ruling hardly justifies being called "pro-RIAA".

But if you want to keep Diluting yourself into "hope and change" then don't mind me, go right ahead.

Except I never voted for Obama and have disagreed with almost everything he's done. Doesn't mean I won't still correct people who are spreading nonsense.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28196621)

Nice red herring, but it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that teh whole uproar over Sotomayor was based on a single ruling out of all of her years in the federal judiciary. One ruling hardly justifies being called "pro-RIAA".

Don't buy this "latina" bullshit, she's a spic, or a wetback, and a fairly racist one too.

Except I never voted for Obama and have disagreed with almost everything he's done. Doesn't mean I won't still correct people who are spreading nonsense.

Speaking of niggers, at least this one acts white.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1)

Manchot (847225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197335)

Nice red herring, but it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that teh whole uproar over Sotomayor was based on a single ruling out of all of her years in the federal judiciary. One ruling hardly justifies being called "pro-RIAA".

Not only that, but it wasn't even a case of the RIAA/MPAA suing an individual for file sharing. The defendants were a series of bars that were publicly showing pay-per-view boxing, and it was a pretty open-and-shut case of infringement for monetary gain. Moreover, she only awarded the plaintiff four times the damages they incurred (definitely a constitutional amount), far less than the 1,000x damages that the RIAA typically seeks. Basically, that article was pure Slashdot-tailored FUD, and it's a shame people bought into it.

Like those car Dealerships whom supported him somehow manage to stay open.

Nice conspiracy theory. Too bad the statistics don't support your claim [blogspot.com] . In short, there's a greater than 50% chance that any variances in what dealerships went under is explainable by pure chance alone.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1)

Chlorine Trifluoride (1517149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196445)

You're kidding, right? You realize that the statistics are completely against there being any political considerations in the closing of the dealerships.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196519)

The contention is that there were no statistics. Can you link to some? When the #1 performing dealerships in the same geographic area as other poor performing dealerships is closed and the poor performers are allowed to continue operating, how does this make sense statistically?

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (2, Informative)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196761)

You are looking at the wrong statistics. The most profitable dealers have remained open. It's not about performance, it's about profitability on both ends. Those two are not necessarily tied together. You can be a poor performer and there are tons of ways to make excess additional amounts per sale to the manufacturer, and this is in fact quite common at dealerships that have lower volume of sales.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196859)

The contention is that there were no statistics. Can you link to some?

You want a link. To no statistics.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1)

Chlorine Trifluoride (1517149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197931)

Here you go. [fivethirtyeight.com]

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28198077)

dilute [merriam-webster.com] ???

I think you mean delude [merriam-webster.com] . Or perhaps you're just delusional.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196759)

Would you have voted for BHO if you knew he was going to make a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court who is pro-RIAA and that under BHO's administration we'd see Google, Apple come under major Antitrust scrutiny (but not Microsoft)? What are your thoughts?

Yes, yes I would. For one thing, in the world of things that truly matter, the RIAA is way down on the list. And as someone else pointed out, one pro-RIAA ruling during a judicial lifetime doesn't mean that much. As for the monopoly thing, if Google and Apple are breaking the law, they should be treated accordingly. Microsoft was already convicted of being a monopoly, and they were punishment. The punishment was completely inadequate and driven by right-wing free-market fanatics in the Bush government, but in the end that was the punishment that was levied. Unless Microsoft is doing something new that is anti-competitive, they are safe.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (2, Funny)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197065)

Wait, someone voted for a Browser Helper Object? [wikipedia.org] I've never heard of one being elected, personally.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28197681)

*crickets chirping*

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197463)

My vote will most likely not change based on any one thing that gets done, unlike your dumb ass who is trying to put a decision on a fairly trivial issue such as copyright law on the same level as genocide and world domination.

Only an idiot would change his vote based on something as trivial as this. If all you look at is how someone is going to react to this sort of shit then you're a moron. There is more than one issue and more than one level of issue and you take the whole picture into account, not one event.

Would this change my vote? Fuck no, I'm all for hiring what you would call 'pro-RIAA' lawyers (keep in mind judges ARE lawyers). Lawyers work for who pays them, they leave their morals at the door and fight for the guy holding the check. Obama can pull EVERY SINGLE ONE of the RIAA's lawyers into his cabinet. Then the president will have ALL of the good lawyers and the RIAA/MPAA will be left with second best. Sounds like a winner to me. Lawyers aren't loyal unless you're the guy holding the purse strings. These people aren't 'PRO-RIAA' they are PRO-BIG_FUCKING_PAY_CHECK.

Way to let your ignorance waste your vote, when you get out of school and clear your head a little maybe you'll get in touch with reality.

Re:Apparently the Obama administration doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28198023)

Since he is, in effect, the CEO of both GM and Chrysler, Obama is the biggest antitrust violator of all.

Re:antitrust, et al. (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196381)

Really, how is it a bad thing if Google says to Yahoo, "Hey, we won't try to hire away your employees if you don't try to hire away mine"?

If anything, that's far less evil than trying to steal anyone they can.

Re:antitrust, et al. (4, Insightful)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196413)

Except that Google and Yahoo! will still attempt to recruit away people from other companies they don't have a pact with and as such this appears to be shady collusive behavior.

Re:antitrust, et al. (2, Interesting)

haystor (102186) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196725)

If I'm employed by Google and seeking a job at Apple, that agreement is interfering with my negotiations.

If this is true, they are conducting discussions about employment with each other without the affected parties being represented.

If it were two companies conspiring against a third company instead of a just a group of anonymous potential employees, the lawsuits would be measured in the billions.

Re:antitrust, et al. (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196781)

If I'm employed by Google and seeking a job at Apple, that agreement is interfering with my negotiations.

No it's not. That's not what this agreement is about. Nothing in this agreement is about stopping an employee from applying for a job at one of the other companies. The agreement is about the companies not trying to actively recruit away employees of the companies they are colluding with.

Re:antitrust, et al. (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197201)

It's certainly bad for the employees who may not get paid as much as they would if there wasn't such an agreement, because they've removed an entire source of demand. But like someone else said it basically means that when Google or Yahoo need more employees that have experience working in their field they have to get them from other competitors who aren't part of the agreement, therefore the companies in the agreement make each other stronger by strangling the rest of the field.

Re:antitrust, et al. (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196549)

What you mean "we", white man?

(yeah yeah I'm as white as the next guy :P)

No-hire pact? (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196137)

It seems to me like there's another angle on this, from the perspective of the affected employees, not the customers/competitors.

By forming a pact that keeps an employee at company A from getting a job at any other company in the cartel, doesn't that run afoul of federal fair labor laws?

Re:No-hire pact? (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196161)

By forming a pact that keeps an employee at company A from getting a job at any other company in the cartel, doesn't that run afoul of federal fair labor laws?

Where in here did it say they were preventing someone from getting a job at one of the other companies? This is about the companies themselves not actively trying to recruit away current employees of the other companies.

Re:No-hire pact? (1)

kithrup (778358) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196357)

And Borland's history with uSoft is a perfect example of why such pacts are put into place.

Re:No-hire pact? (4, Insightful)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196427)

Non-compete restrictions in employment contracts are common in software development work and are another flavor of this issue. What these companies have done is more insidious because they aren't asking employees to agree to being locked out of major portions of the job market for their skills.

The result of this is that you often can't work in the industry for years after leaving your job. To insist that employees have experience when they are hired and then prevent them from using it when they leave seems wrong.

Re:No-hire pact? (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196459)

Non-compete restrictions in employment contracts are common in software development work and are another flavor of this issue. What these companies have done is more insidious because they aren't asking employees to agree to being locked out of major portions of the job market for their skills.

Except non-competes are illegal in California which all 4 of the listed companies are based in. Nice try though.

The result of this is that you often can't work in the industry for years after leaving your job. To insist that employees have experience when they are hired and then prevent them from using it when they leave seems wrong.

That's great and all but non-compete clauses aren't what this probe is about.

Re:No-hire pact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28196577)

Exactly.

The "pact" is more about reducing the motivation of tech employees from job hopping, which keeps them in as low of a paygrade as possible.

Any of us who have worked for the larger tech companies realize we only get ahead by job hopping or kissing ass.. and most of us don't do the later.

Re:No-hire pact? (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196803)

No it's about reducing the amount of employees they will actively try to take away from the select few they are colluding with. Not preventing employees from applying at the other companies.

Re:No-hire pact? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197559)

Why, because these companies are the only places the employee can work? You realize that every employee at these companies has a comparable job in a field completely unrelated to silicon valley. Contrary to popular belief, Google, MS, and Apple are not the only companies who need network admins, systems engineers, developers and everything else. Technology employees are used in EVERY business, so unless you're saying that every company in America agreed to not hire someone elses employee while they were still employeed then this whole thing is pointless.

You only get part of the choice in where you work, the company gets to make a choice too. If they choose to not steal employees, good for them. Just because you want to play the companies against each other to get paid more than you are worth doesn't mean they have to play your retarded game.

You do not have a 'right' to work anywhere, regardless of what you think. Working is a privilege, once you wrap your thick skull around that you'll be a lot better off in life.

Seriously? (-1, Flamebait)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196143)

Seriously neither Google nor Yahoo! are anything close to a monopoly. Popular, yes. Abusive, no. Apple is way more open now than it was a few years ago, almost all Apple products have something open source powering it. About the only vaguely monopolistic thing that Apple has done is with the App store for the iPhone.

Doesn't it make much more sense to go after MS rather then companies which are definitely not monopolies and not abusive ones at that?

Re:Seriously? (3, Informative)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196225)

Seriously neither Google nor Yahoo! are anything close to a monopoly.

Nothing in this article was talking about any of the four listed companies being a monopoly. This was about collusive behavior to not recruit away talent from each other.

Re:Seriously? (-1, Troll)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196271)

Doesn't it make much more sense to go after MS rather then companies which are definitely not monopolies and not abusive ones at that?

I agree. The browser war is pretty much old news, but I'm really sick to death of how video games for PCs are usually only available for Windows. If it weren't for that, I could close down my windows partition on my home PC permanently. Obviously I have no proof of infringing behavior, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that MS is engaging in some anti-competitive practices in this area to shut out competing platforms from the PC gaming market. If it were me looking at this, I'd look for deals between MS and the video card manufacturers.

Re:Seriously? (1, Offtopic)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196359)

but I'm really sick to death of how video games for PCs are usually only available for Windows.

Can you really blame them for only wanting to develop for a platform that will actually be profitable? Yes, it does suck that there is a dearth of Linux games, but that's just the way it is. If Linux got a bigger marketshare then you might see more attention, but game companies aren't going to develop for every fringe desktop OS when it isn't going to make them anything but a negligible amount of money.

Obviously I have no proof of infringing behavior, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that MS is engaging in some anti-competitive practices in this area to shut out competing platforms from the PC gaming market.

Or *gasp* maybe it has to do with the fact that it's completely not worth their time and money to make games for an OS that constitutes less than 1% of all desktops. Considering the fact that Macs get games would clearly show that your claim is wrong since Apple is one of Microsoft's most fierce competitors.

Re:Seriously? (0, Flamebait)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196909)

You're pretty much completely missing my point. Let me re-iterate: based on my experience with their past behavior (browsers), it is not outside the realm of possibility that MS is doing something to entice game developers and/or video card makers to solely develop for directX. It could very well be that directX is a better platform to design games for, and that's why most gaming companies use it, but my thought was that *gasp* maybe MS is reenforcing it's monopoly on desktops through anti-competitive behavior. Gee, that'd be a real shocker, wouldn't it? I bet you'd never expect MS to try something like that, or that they might try and use their desktop monopoly to build games for the xbox 360.

Re:Seriously? (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197511)

You're pretty much completely missing my point.

No, I got your point completely. It was just wrong.

Let me re-iterate: based on my experience with their past behavior (browsers), it is not outside the realm of possibility that MS is doing something to entice game developers and/or video card makers to solely develop for directX.

Why would they need to do anything at all? Any game company that wants to make money is already going to know to develop for the platform that holds 90% of the desktop market. Your second point doesn't make any sense since all video cards support OpenGL and have for a decade and more.

It could very well be that directX is a better platform to design games for, and that's why most gaming companies use it, but my thought was that *gasp* maybe MS is reenforcing it's monopoly on desktops through anti-competitive behavior.

DirectX is easier to develop for which is why even id Software, a long time developer on OpenGL, started doing DirectX development. Or are you going to claim that Carmack was bought out by Microsoft?

I bet you'd never expect MS to try something like that, or that they might try and use their desktop monopoly to build games for the xbox 360.

This doesn't even make sense. What does their desktop monopoly have to do with making games for the 360?

Re:Seriously? (0, Flamebait)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197885)

I remind that having a monopoly on a particular product is not illegal. What is illegal is "abusive behaviour by a firm dominating a market, or anti-competitive practices that tend to lead to such a dominant position" (link [wikipedia.org] ). What you are saying is that gaming companies are just developing for the platform that holds 88% o the market. What I am suggesting is that there is a strong possibility that MS is doing more than just making a good platform to design games, they could be colluding with video card developers or game producers to keep it that way so that no other platform could get games, which in turn reinforces their monopoly on the OS. How do you know that MS doesn't offer an unfair advantage to developing on the directX? Are you a developer? Do you know what kinds of deals MS does with e.g., id software? I don't, that's why I'm asking.

As for consoles, can you really not see that MS is trying to use its monopoly on desktops and PC games to leverage itself into the console market? Really?

As for the Mac, don't be ridiculous, the Mac might get some of the more popular titles, but I argue that it's nowhere near the percentage of people using macs at home, AND they get them late if they do get them.

Re:Seriously? (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28198183)

What you are saying is that gaming companies are just developing for the platform that holds 88% o the market.

Exactly. They are developing for a platform that will actually be profitable not a fringe OS that will provide them with no real appreciable gain in profits.

What I am suggesting is that there is a strong possibility that MS is doing more than just making a good platform to design games, they could be colluding with video card developers or game producers to keep it that way so that no other platform could get games,

And yet you have no evidence of this. And it's even more amusing in light of the fact of the current state of the proprietary nVIDIA and ATI drivers for Linux.

which in turn reinforces their monopoly on the OS.

It may to some degree, but gaming is hardly even a major reason they hold their huge market share.

How do you know that MS doesn't offer an unfair advantage to developing on the directX?

Because they have no need to do so?

Are you a developer?

Yes, I am and I know plenty of people who do game development. They don't develop for Windows due to some huge conspiracy. It's because the platform is easier to develop for and it's one in which they will actually make money.

As for consoles, can you really not see that MS is trying to use its monopoly on desktops and PC games to leverage itself into the console market? Really?

Yes, I can't since the two markets are completely unrelated in any way. Exactly in what way is a console game maker going to care or be swayed by Microsoft's desktop OS market share?

As for the Mac, don't be ridiculous, the Mac might get some of the more popular titles, but I argue that it's nowhere near the percentage of people using macs at home, AND they get them late if they do get them.

Ah, but you were trying to claim that there was some grand scheme to prevent games being made for anything but Windows but it must not work very well if Mac games are still being made and ported.

Re:Seriously? (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197659)

You're pretty much completely missing my point. Let me re-iterate: based on my experience with their past behavior (browsers), it is not outside the realm of possibility that MS is doing something to entice game developers and/or video card makers to solely develop for directX.

You mean like advancing Direct 3d to contain new features with every major release, while Khronos dropped nearly every new feature from the long-awaited OpenGL 3.0 spec?

Re:Seriously? (1)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196957)

*gasp* I use Windows because I have to. Work requires Windows, I go unemployed I'll finally be free from Windows, but I'd rather not!

Re:Seriously? (4, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196281)

I used to drive a Hyundai Sonata. Whenever I took it out, I would get stares because the heap would lay down a huge black cloud of exhaust when I pressed the gas. I would occasionally think about getting it fixed, but never really got around to it [myrtlewoodgallery.com] . Then one day I was t-boned at an intersection. The car was totaled.

In the business world, things are much the same way. Collision is just as bad as a monopoly.

They have money (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196345)

The US Government is short of that.

Even though I own multiple Apple products I would rather see DOJ bust Apple's balls than MS. At MS doesn't dictate whose machine I can run their OS on (even though I have no Windows computers art home). As for Google, they have money, they are current at issue with various "AA" groups that have relations with people in the new guy's administration.

Besides this about restricting employee for leaving for better offers by agreeing not to see out talent from agreed upon companies. In other words, if they like you they might be willing to make a deal with a competitor so you won't be offered a reason to leave.

I still figure most of it is about getting more money

Re:They have money (1, Troll)

azior (1302509) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196745)

Even though I own multiple Apple products I would rather see DOJ bust Apple's balls than MS. At MS doesn't dictate whose machine I can run their OS on

...as long as it's Intel x86 or x86-64... Microsoft and Intel are like a evil couple

Re:They have money (1)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197453)

Uh... Microsoft still does not DICTATE what CPU's you can run windows on. It is perfectly allowable to run x86 Windows on another architecture using emulation (although why the hell you would want to do so is beyond me). That is much different than Apple which will contractually prevent you from running OS X on any piece of hardware it did not sell you.

Despite the whiny sense of entitlement that pervades Slashdot, you don't have a right to get everything you want from Microsoft for free. They are not doing anything via contract law to LIMIT you from installing legitimately purchased versions of Windows on any hardware you want, but they are not REQUIRED to spend huge amounts of money to rebuild Windows and every single Windows program to run on whatever obscure hardware architecture you decide is sacred now.

Re:They have money (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197743)

It is perfectly allowable to run x86 Windows on another architecture using emulation (although why the hell you would want to do so is beyond me).

O RLY?

From Vista Basic and Premium EULAs
"USE WITH VIRTUALIZATION TECHNOLOGIES. You may not use the software installed on the
licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system."

If you want to go on some sort of anti-slashdot astroturf rant, be my guest, but you might want to tone down the declarations of outright falsehoods. Hurts your credibility.

Re:They have money (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197945)

...as long as it's Intel x86 or x86-64... Microsoft and Intel are like a evil couple

Windows NT was once released for MIPS, Alpha, and PowerPC and was going to be ported to SPARC by a third party. Only the Alpha port sold well enough to justify development, and then Alpha was discontinued before Windows 2000 was released.

It's actually worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28197615)

...MS doesn't dictate whose machine I can run their OS on (even though I have no Windows computers art home).

Instead, they pressure the manufacturers into excluding competitor operating systems on computers they deem to be their target market. The "Windows tax" is collected before you get the machine, so you might as well accept the pre-installed product and use it -- like it or not.

I fail to see how that is better.

Re:They have money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28197619)

As for Google, they have money, they are current at issue with various "AA" groups that have relations with people in the new guy's administration.

Watch Obama's campaign-era speech at Google. He even mentions he is going to do something different in the antitrust arena. (Though as I recall, he didn't say this specifically, but you could argue that this is what he promised. To the Googlers.)

If everyone will take off their rose colored glasses, about how Apple and Google can do no evil... This is good for us, the Slashdot reading base, that works in technology. From the looks of it, this is about our freedom to get hired based on our merits, and not be unfairly disqualified based on some silly corporate arrangement. If you're working at a tech company and would consider moving over somewhere else, I can't see this as anything but good news.

But... It really says something about how people get when they see this as offensive to their favorite cult (Apple, Google). I would guess that this is just fanboyism, and that the employees this affects aren't this stupid about their allegiances. If you are working at GOOG and APPL and don't like it, why should you oppose a measure that will make it easier for you to make a career move?

Also, this is off-topic, but I don't see anybody quoting this part of the article:

Antitrust experts say that could include wireless carriers and software operators that may be blocking certain applications from running on their networks and devices.

Awesome. That sounds great.

Re:They have money (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197749)

Even though I own multiple Apple products I would rather see DOJ bust Apple's balls than MS.

Right, so the monopoly abuse in the desktop market that they got convicted of just stopped as soon as the Bush Administration DoJ let them off scot free, right?

Re:Seriously? (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196449)

Seriously neither Google nor Yahoo! are anything close to a monopoly.

Good luck trying to compete with either of them -- at any level...

Re:Seriously? (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196469)

Especially if you have anything of merit because they will just recruit away all your talent while having an agreement not to do so to each other.

Re:Seriously? (2, Insightful)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197283)

You mean like WolframAlpha? They can be competed with. May take some deep pocket investors and a high power altruistic talent but it happens.

Holy shit!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28196223)

Oh my god!!! Is this happening in the US!? Quick, someone get a camera!

Beware the red herring (4, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196315)

"Obama's antitrust chief at the Justice Department, Christine Varney, has said she plans to look at the network effects of high-tech companies and how their grasp on markets has cut out competitors and hurt consumers."

They are investigating collusion in the labor market - in this case, the companies themselves are the consumer, and job seekers provide the service. But this has nothing to do with cutting out competitors and hurting consumers. What they are doing is collusion in a market which, though probably illegal, keeps costs down, not up.

"look at the network effects of high-tech companies and ... grasp on markets ..." is shorthand for increased government regulation, whether warranted or not. What will happen when they decide to investigate the companies that supply toilets, and find out that "only" 10 companies "dominate" the market? They may not be colluding, but OBVIOUSLY such a small number of companies id bad for the market, and hence requires regulation of their pricing to protect the consumer.

Re:Beware the red herring (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197217)

Will they also look at the collusion in the political market where only 2 firms 'dominate' and worse, the firm that has the dominant position is actively doing things to keep the other firm out?

Wheres Microsoft in antitrust investigations? (-1, Troll)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196335)

I dont understand how they can go after small things like this while Microsoft continues abusing OEM's.

Re:Wheres Microsoft in antitrust investigations? (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196507)

Because that's not *anti-trust* behaviour. That's monopoly, and different. And since there's availability of other OS's, and it's possible to get a computer without Windows, then it's not a monopoly. Apple won't let non-Apple computers have OSX, and an OEM computer isn't going to take the time to make a custom Linux install to work with their hardware when they can foist support off to Microsoft by saying "that's an OS issue." Not to mention the majority of the programs that get "paid placement" or whatever are also Windows programs, which is why you can get a $400 computer. It's subsidized by Norton and whoever who want a trial of their software on it. Lose that, and there's no competitive advantage. Thus it's not MS who's abusing OEM.

Re:Wheres Microsoft in antitrust investigations? (1, Flamebait)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196553)

Because that's not *anti-trust* behaviour. That's monopoly, and different.

Good luck trying to get that through the head of most Slashdotters. They are so misinformed about such topics that it's almost as laughable as when they repeat the erroneous, and contrary to established case law, claims that EULAs are nonenforceable in the US.

Re:Wheres Microsoft in antitrust investigations? (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196717)

... and an OEM computer isn't going to take the time to make a custom Linux install to work with their hardware when they can foist support off to Microsoft...

Uhm last time I checked there were numerous products precisely the way you describe them available. Do you know what a netbook is? If so I guess what you meant to say was "most OEM's". There's a big difference.

Big Oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28196619)

How is what these companies doing any different than the non compete / anti-head hunting clauses the major oil companies have been using for over four decades to limit employee loss to competitors? The way I see it this is just bluff and bluster on the DoJ's part.

Re:Big Oil (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28196701)

How is what these companies doing any different than the non compete / anti-head hunting clauses the major oil companies have been using for over four decades to limit employee loss to competitors?

Because they aren't even remotely analogous? This agreement is saying that they will still recruit away talent from other competitors, just not the select few that they are colluding with.

They are colluding to keep wages down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28196797)

By not hiring from each other, they are dampening the wage escalation that occurs for the best or most strategic talent.

This does not hurt firms not in the cartel, it hurts their employees. It actually helps companies outside the cartel by reducing the cost to hire away talent from companies in the pact.

Hmmm (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197187)

An industry wide probe that calls out these specific companies. Odd that.

And this is a problem WHY? (-1, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197295)

So other than the fact that most of slashdot thinks they should be paid FAR more than they are actually worth, why exactly is this a bad thing?

You mean some companies agreed to be polite and not steal each others employees. And now they are getting in trouble? Since when did common fucking courtesy become illegal?

You people really need to get in touch with reality. I've learned that people who bitch loudest about not getting paid fairly are the lazy fuck wads that don't deserve it. Those people capable of demanding larger salaries because they really are that good, will get hired somewhere for more anyway.

The only people this 'hurts' are the people who game companies to get more money than they deserve.

If you really think this is 'wrong' you should pull your head out of your ass.

Vague laws gives government too much power (1)

syncopated (1174997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197301)

Government anti-trust law action against companies purportedly level the playing field and empowers everyone to compete equally, giving more power to consumers. However, the anti-trust laws are vague and it is hard to tell when a company has violated them. Thus, the government itself gets broad powers to interpret the laws. If the government were really interested in leveling the playing field and empowering many industry players and consumers, instead of itself, it would do something to make those laws clearer. By maintaining vague laws, the government keeps for itself the monopoly to rule on a case-by-case basis what's allowed and what's not. The government itself is guilty of violating the principles of the anti-trust laws.

Can anyone... (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197339)

I'm having a tough time figuring out exactly how this hurts consumers? Can anyone lay it out for me.

It's monopsony by collusion (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197373)

It's an illegal restraint of trade under US antitrust law. It's not "monopoly", which is sell-side, it's "monopsony", which is buy-side.

Farmers classically face monopsony situations. This was much worse when most farm products moved only by rail. When there was only one buyer with a rail loading facility in an area, farmers were really screwed. That's why there are so many farmer's cooperatives in the US, and USDA efforts to control monopsonies. For what it was like before that, see "A Deal In Wheat" [gutenberg.org] , from 1903.

Re:It's monopsony by collusion (2, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197719)

OMG! Monoponies!

Where in the Constitution (0, Flamebait)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197663)

Is Obama given the authority to regulate businesses - specifically hiring practices. If we allow Obama, et al, to come in and under "anti-trust" provisions penalize these companies for NOT hiring away top talent then our nation has taken a drastic turn towards Marxism. The "hiring truce" is in no way anti-competitive in the sense that it does not affect the marketplace. We still have complete choice between any search engine. Ironically, the one oddly missing from this hiring truce is Microsoft, who is the only one to be convicted of violating anti-trust law! There is no way employments functionally produce a way to maintain market power. If you could put someone else similarly competent, in the position, you'll get a similar result.

The Russians were amazed when Obama "fired" the CEO of GM! [pravda.ru]

I don't want to hear that it "keeps wages down" or that it is a form of "non-compete". Anti-trust laws are not about jobs. They are about markets. I can use any search engine - google, yahoo, bing(wtf?) and I have plenty of hardware choices. Where I don't have enough choice though is in PC OSs. Thank you, Microsoft.

We are embarking down a dark path as a nation. Government interference in hiring practices? I can understand racial discrimination (marginally so) but a hiring truce? Give me a break.

What was that sucking sound? (-1, Flamebait)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197705)

The sound of Slashdotters' infinitely broad universe of "special rules" for monopolies collapsing as anti-MS fans realize it could apply to Apple, Google, and Yahoo.

Christine Varney needs a history lesson (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197803)

In the technology business, the guy with the money buys up the talent to kill his competition. It was that way before IBM displaced Rand McNally. Microsoft turned it into a sledgehammer. Google headed down that path. Yahoo! said "what up with do no evil beothes?". So, folks made a pact of sorts not to do it.

Genentech (1)

AnAdventurer (1548515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28197831)

Does Peter Gibbons still work at Genentech?

Non-compete agreements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28197997)

Isn't a non-compete basically the same thing? Employers go to great lengths to impose their non-compete agreements on prospective employees, most of whom have no trade secrets or proprietary knowledge of anything. The ultimate goal has nothing to do with the employer's competitors; they simply wish to limit the number of offers an employee might receive (from any source). Paying higher salaries would accomplish the same thing, but the paperwork solution is cheaper and gives the legal department something to do.

It just so happens that most (if not all) of the companies mentioned in TFA are California based. There are no non-competes in California. To me, it looks like these companies stand accused of doing what non-California employers already do. It's slightly more obvious in this case, but not much.

The problem could be solved if non-competes were allowed in all 50 states, for an unlimited term. But the catch would be that employers would be obligated to pay the employee their existing compensation for the duration of the non-compete period if they are terminated for any reason. If their knowledge is SOOOO valuable, then paying them to sit on the bench would be a relative bargain, no? If not, then ditch the strategy.

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