Apple, Google, and Yahoo are among the tech giants being investigated by the Justice Department for possible antitrust violations related to negotiations over the recruiting and hiring of one another's employees, according to a Washington Post report.
The review is said to be "industrywide" and in preliminary stages, according to the report, which cited two unnamed sources. Companies that agree not to hire away talent could be stifling competition, the report noted.
Representatives for Apple, Google, Yahoo, and the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Tech companies, known for their exhaustive recruiting efforts, have waged fierce battles to maintain top talent. In one closely watched case, Google was sued by Microsoft in 2005 over Google's decision to hire Kai-Fu Lee away from Microsoft to run Google's research operation in China. The two parties eventually settled out of court.
IBM has proved particularly territorial about departing executives. Last month, the company filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent its former head of mergers and acquisitions, David Johnson, from joining Dell, saying it would be a violation of his contract.
Last year, IBM sued Mark Papermaster to keep him from joining Apple. The lawsuit's claims were nearly identical, with IBM charging that Papermaster's joining Apple would cause him to divulge trade secrets and was a violation of the noncompete clause to which he agreed. IBM and Papermaster settled after three months, and Papermaster finally started working at Apple three months later.