Steve Jobs Threatened Palm With Lawsuit Over Employee ‘Poaching’

Steve Jobs once threatened Palm with a lawsuit, accusing the company of “poaching” valuable Apple employees.

The Apple co-founder threatened the patent lawsuit against Palm if the chief executives didn’t agree to stop taking employees from the tech giant.

Reuters reports that the communication from Jobs to his tech rival was revealed during a lawsuit brought by five tech workers against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Corp, and others.

The lawsuit alleges an illegal conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other’s employees. They also allege the companies sought to drive down wages.

The tech companies named in the lawsuit have so far sought to keep a range of their documents secret, but US District Judge Lucy Koh — who is presiding over the case in San Jose, California — has rejected parts of their request.

The rejection led to the communications between Steve Jobs and Palm’s former chief executive, Edward Colligan, becoming a part of the public record.

The document shows that Apple and Palm hired each other’s employees during Colligan’s tenure (2003 until 2009), according to CNN. Colligan stated that Jobs called him in August 2007 to propose “an agreement” between the two companies, saying that they would not hire employees away from each other.

Colligan’s recollection added that the agreement contained a strong “or else” statement from the Apple co-founder. He essentially claimed that Steve Jobs threatened to sue Palm should the company not agree to the arrangement.

Colligan emailed a response to Jobs, saying:

“Your proposal that we agree that neither company will hire the other’s employees, regardless of the individual’s desires, is not only wrong, it is likely illegal.”

The Palm chief executive added that the company recruits employees based on their talent, not on where they are currently working. He added, “Threatening Palm with a patent lawsuit in response to a decision by one employee to leave Apple is just out of line.”

By matt buchanan (originally posted to Flickr as Apple iPad Event) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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