Steve Jobs threatened patent suit to enforce no-hire policy, according to court filing

“Apple co-founder Steve Jobs threatened to file a patent lawsuit against Palm if that company’s chief executive didn’t agree to refrain from poaching Apple employees, according to a court filing made public on Tuesday,” Dan Levine reports for Reuters. “The communication from Jobs surfaced in a civil lawsuit brought by five tech workers against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Corp and others, alleging an illegal conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other’s employees and drive down wages.”

“The defendant tech companies have attempted to keep a range of documents secret. However, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California rejected parts of that request, which led to details of Jobs’ 2007 communications with then-Palm chief executive Edward Colligan becoming part of the public record,” Levine reports. “Jobs proposed eliminating competition between the two companies for talent, according to a sworn statement from Colligan cited by the plaintiffs. ‘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.”

Levine reports, “Colligan told Jobs that the plan was ‘likely illegal,’ and that Palm was not ‘intimidated’ by the threat.”

MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps Steve was merely employing a method of evaluating rival CEOs’ ethical standards?

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You remember Ed:

We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.Ed Colligan, commenting on then-rumored Apple iPhone, Nov. 16, 2006

Mr. Bigtalk Nowalk.

Now, what is this “Palm” they’re talking about?

Related article:
Judge Koh orders Apple CEO Tim Cook to four hours of questioning in anti-poaching case – January 17, 2013
Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm fail to get staff-poaching antitrust lawsuit dismissed – April 19, 2012
Court filing: Steve Jobs told Google’s Schmidt to stop poaching workers – January 27, 2012
Did Apple CEO Steve Jobs ask Palm’s Colligan to collude? – August 20, 2009
Did Apple and Google make an anti-poaching deal? – August 9, 2009


    1. It was before any “gentlemen agreements” came. Although there is no mobile phone companies, except Apple, among the companies that had this agreement. This agreement was mostly a Silicon Valley thing.

  1. They intentionally mislead everyone by naming “no-pouching” as “no-hire”.

    No-pouching is perfectly legal behaviour, while no-hire is not.

    Those are two different policies. No-hire is when you are an employee of one company and want to have higher-salary job for another company, and yet you are declined just because companies agreed to not hire people that work for each other.

    No-poaching is about companies not pro-actively disrupting each other businesses by pulling people which never solicited change of workplace.

    It is perfectly legal for companies to decide to not poach other companies’ staff. This is management’s rightful discretion to do hiring the way they want.

    There is no information that Steven Jobs ever discussed (or, the more so, “threatened”) with anyone “no-hire” agreements — only “no-poaching”.

    If employee WANTS some position in other company, there is no limitation for that whatsoever — according to the “gentlemen agreement” that was in the place.

    1. no, steve told palm and google to fire ex-apple employees to prove a point to everyone else. it has been well documented before. Eric Schmidt fired that person the same day.

      1. The person who was fired is not former Apple employee, it is Google’s employee from HR department who forgot/denied Schmidt’s earlier instruction not to poach people from Apple — according to agreement with Jobs.

      2. Also, there are papers in the court from that describe the policy in detail. They list companies with description how on which conditions it is allowed to hire people from those companies.

        And it is clearly said there that hiring is perfectly allowed once employee approached himself/herself. But poaching is not allowed.

    1. It is not Jobs’ idea, this kind of “gentlement agreements” documented to exist around the world since at least 19th Century. However, it is perfectly best idea, if the agreement about no-poaching, and not no-hiring.

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