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Federal judge approves settlement in eBay antitrust case

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Tuesday approved [judgment, PDF] a settlement between federal antitrust authorities and eBay [corporate website] over allegations that eBay agreed to not to poach employees from rival companies. Judge Edward Davila presided over the settlement between eBay and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. An official statement in regards to the settlement has not been released, but earlier this year the company stated that "the policy that prompted this lawsuit was acceptable and legal, and led to no anticompetitive effects in the talent market in which eBay competed." The settlement was initially proposed [JURIST report] in May and includes provisions preventing eBay from engaging in any type of non-compete agreements with other companies that would potentially restrict hiring or recruiting. The settlement also includes restitution and penalties amounting to $3.75 million.

The DOJ has recently been involved in other antitrust lawsuits involving alleged violations of the Sherman Act [JURIST backgrounder]. In July the US District Court for the Southern District of of New York found [JURIST report] technology giant Apple guilty of e-book price fixing. The judge found that Apple had engaged in an e-book price fixing conspiracy with major publishers to increase the price of their e-books, violating various state statutes and the Sherman Act. In September 2012 the same court had approved a settlement [JURIST report] between the Department of Justice and publishers Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster over allegations of e-book price fixing. Apple, MacMillan and Penguin chose to not accept the settlement and continue litigation. EBay has also been involved in litigation over trademark infringement in recent years as well. In July 2011 the EU Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] that eBay may be liable on the part of its users for infringing cosmetic producer L'Oreal's trademarks. In July 2010 Connecticut company XPRT Ventures LLC filed suit [JURIST report] against eBay in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, claiming infringement of six patents for online auctions and payment systems.

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