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Jobs to Palm: poach our employees, face a patent suit

updated 10:58 pm EST, Tue January 22, 2013

Court filing reveals emails from Apple CEO to Palm CEO

In documents revealed in the employee anti-poaching hearings in front of Judge Lucy Koh in California, it was disclosed that Apple CEO Steve Jobs threatened Palm with a patent lawsuit if it didn't agree to stop poaching Apple employees. The communication from Jobs to then-CEO Edward Colligan surfaced in a hearing regarding class-action status in a suit brought by five tech workers against Apple, Google, and Intel, alleging a conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other's employees to ultimately drive down wages.

"Mr. Jobs also suggested that if Palm did not agree to such an arrangement, Palm could face lawsuits alleging infringement of Apple's many patents," Colligan said in the statement. Colligan reportedly told Jobs that the plan was illegal, and Palm would not cede to Apple's demand.

Also revealed in the court filing is an exchange between Google then-CEO Eric Schmidt and Google's human resources director regarding sharing its no-cold-call agreements with competitors. Schmidt responded that he preferred it be shared "verbally, since I don't want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later," according to the court filing. The HR director agreed with the CEO.

Plaintiff attorneys have estimated damages in the suit could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Adobe attorney Robert Mittelstaedt, as part of the defense team, claimed that the plaintiffs had no evidence that the employees were actually impacted, financially or otherwise, by the deals between the companies' CEOs.

Judge Koh ordered Apple CEO Tim Cook to be deposed by plaintiff attorneys for up to four hours in the matter. The judge believes that internal emails such as the ones between Schmidt and HR, and with Jobs and Colligan would prove that the companies felt the agreement would provide financial benefits to each other, despite the accord being in violation of Federal law.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. MikBe

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-29-12

    Wow, that sounds like outright extortion or at least the threat of malicious prosecution (a civil wrong, not a criminal wrong). I'm sure I'm mistaken but I would think you can say, "If you don't stop doing this thing I'm going to take legal action to get you to stop doing that thing." But saying, "If you don't stop doing something that is not illegal nor a violation of anything I'm going to take legal action for doing something totally unrelated I'm claiming you're doing." sounds pretty illegal to me.

    For instance if I want your land I might say, "Sell me your land or I will sue you for copyright infringement."

  1. blahblahbber

    Banned

    Joined: 02-01-05

    Too typical....

    Originally Posted by MikBeView Post

    Wow, that sounds like outright extortion or at least the threat of malicious prosecution (a civil wrong, not a criminal wrong). I'm sure I'm mistaken but I would think you can say, "If you don't stop doing this thing I'm going to take legal action to get you to stop doing that thing." But saying, "If you don't stop doing something that is not illegal nor a violation of anything I'm going to take legal action for doing something totally unrelated I'm claiming you're doing." sounds pretty illegal to me.

    For instance if I want your land I might say, "Sell me your land or I will sue you for copyright infringement."



    Steve crApple's (and other's) world domination mindset... what else is new?

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    So let me see if I have this right: Steve makes a threat against Palm out of anger -- which would, yes, have been illegal -- and Palm responds by reminding him that the threat was illegal. As far as I can tell, Apple never took any action on the threat, probably on the advice of its own counsel. We don't have a record of whether Steve later apologized, but knowing him I'd doubt an apology exists. :)

    Google, on the other hand, responds by saying they're all in favour of this thing they KNOW is illegal, but let's do it without a paper trail so we don't get caught.

    I don't know about you, but I've said plenty of stupid crap when I'm angry that wouldn't have been practical to act on in the cold light of day (and thus, I didn't). So an outburst by Steve that didn't result in any concrete actions doesn't seem to me to be anything other than normal private human interaction.

    Schmidt, on the other hand, reveals EVERYTHING you need to know about his character right there. I'll take Jobs' bad temper over a lying rat weasel like Schmidt any day, and I hope the judge notices the difference as well. That troltrolltroller prefers Schmidt's approach tells you everything you need to know about him as well, methinks ...

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