Steve Jobs Threatened Palm with Patent Suit Over No-Hire Policy

Steve Jobs threatened to file a patent suit against Palm if they didn't agree to not hire Apple employees, according to a Reuters report on a court filing (via AppleInsider) made public Tuesday. The court filing is a part of a class action lawsuit against Apple, Google, Pixar, Lucasfilm and others over an agreement those companies made to not actively solicit each other's employees to hire them away.


The companies attempted to keep an array of documents secret, but that request was rejected in parts by Judge Lucy Koh, which is why a statement from former Palm executive Edward Colligan has become public record. Colligan said that Jobs proposed the agreement to Palm, and that Jobs suggested that if Palm didn't agree they could face lawsuits "alleging infringement of Apple's many patents." Colligan responded to Jobs with an email:

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.

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

Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs revealed that Jobs was angry at Palm for hiring former employees, although the threat of patent litigation in Colligan's statement is certainly a new revelation.

"Jobs was so furious that Palm was hiring some of his former employees that he complained to Bono, who was a cofounder of a private equity group, led by the former Apple CFO Fred Anderson, that had bought a controlling stake in Palm."

These aren't the only instances that Jobs became angry at the poaching of Apple employees, however. In January 2012 it was revealed, also according to a court filing, that Jobs complained to then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt about the hiring of Apple employees at Google.

Recently, current CEO Tim Cook was ordered to give a deposition in this case, so more nuggets of information are likely to be released as court filings are made public.

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
101 months ago
And people call Samsung scum.
Score: 68 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago
What an angry man Steve was. I like him less and less each day. Not that Tim is doing a better job though.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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101 months ago

This is so dirty, so Steve Jobs. He had a passion to be the best in every way, no matter the means.


And he really lowered himself to achieve certain things. He sure didn't like competition.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago

They are scum... you can read all about it....

http://www.kernelmag.com/features/report/3028/samsung-power-corruption-and-lies/

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/06/business/worldbusiness/06iht-samsung.1.8210181.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aH3aDwXXnvqc

http://www.fastcompany.com/1627411/bribery-massive-corruption-samsung-says-exposé-former-s-korean-prosecutor

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-04/22/content_8029589.htm

Regardless of that, a whole lot of Silicon Valley companies (e.g.: just about all the big ones) are going to pay out on a class action lawsuit regarding these no-hire agreements. It extends way beyond Apple and Google.

*yawn*
Where did I deny that Samsung wasn't scum or that they were never involved in illegal activities? I'm saying that it's hypocritical of Apple fanboys to proclaim that Samsung was scum and not mention the scum-like activities of Apple.
And just because other companies participated doesn't make it right. The way I see it, Apple is the biggest scum of them all. They make Samsung look like Mother Teresa. All Samsung is involved with is bribery of Korean politicians to get tax cuts and even more tax cuts, which doesn't really harm anyone. Apple's activities, on the other hand...
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago

And people call Samsung scum.


They are scum... you can read all about it....

http://www.kernelmag.com/features/report/3028/samsung-power-corruption-and-lies/

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/06/business/worldbusiness/06iht-samsung.1.8210181.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aH3aDwXXnvqc

http://www.fastcompany.com/1627411/bribery-massive-corruption-samsung-says-exposé-former-s-korean-prosecutor

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-04/22/content_8029589.htm

Regardless of that, a whole lot of Silicon Valley companies (e.g.: just about all the big ones) are going to pay out on a class action lawsuit regarding these no-hire agreements. It extends way beyond Apple and Google.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago

I think he's perfectly okay to protect his company and employees, and therefore their hard work from being lost to another company.

To be honest, I'd do anything to have someone with Steve's stance on poaching leading my company...


While it's extremely far away from slavery, no poaching policies are on the same spectrum. It takes us from a free market to one where an employee is essentially owned by his company if he wants to work in his chosen field. It's extremely unethical and should be illegal if it's not.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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