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Steve Jobs threatened Palm if they employed Apple staff

Steve Jobs had apparently threatened Palm with a patent suit if they didn’t agree to not hire Apple employees. The report came from Reuters which was made public yesterday.

The court filing is part of a class action lawsuit against Apple, Google, Pixar, Lucasfilm and others over an agreement those companies made to not hire each others employees.

The companies had attempted to keep a plethora of documents secret, but that request was rejected in parts by judge Lucy Koh. A statement from former Palm executive Edward Colligan has become public record. Colligan said that Jobs proposed the agreement to Palm. Jobs then suggested if Palm didn’t agree that they could be facing lawsuits ‘alleging infringement of Apple’s many patents’.

Colligan then responded to Jobs with an email reading “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.[…] Palm doesn’t target other companies-we look for the best people we can find. l’d hope the same could be said about Apple1s practices. However, during the last year or so, as Apple geared up to compete with Palm in the phone space, Apple hired at least 2% of Palm’s workforce. To put it in perspective, had Palm done the same, we’d have hired 300 folks from Apple. Instead, to my knowledge, we’ve hired just three.”

Steve Jobs: known as a ruthless businessman

Colligan told Jobs that he was not intimidated with patent litigation and said Palm had recently acquired some patents from Siemens that it could use against Apple and their iPhone patents.

Jobs responded “Just for the record, when Siemens sold their handset business to BenQ they didn’t sell them their essential patents but rather just gave them a license. The patents they did sell to BenQ are not that great. We looked at them ourselves when they were for sale. I guess you guys felt differently and bought them. We are not concerned about them at all. My advice is to take a look at our patent portfolio before you make a final decision here.”

Other reports said that Jobs had previously complained to (then CEO) Eric Schmidt about the hiring of Apple employees at Google.

Kitguru says: Tim Cook, current Apple CEO has been ordered to give a deposition in this case, so more information is likely to be released.

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