In a civil lawsuit that was filed against by five technology workers against Apple, Google, Intel, and other companies, it was revealed that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had threatened to file a patent lawsuit against Palm if they did not agree to stop poaching his employees. The five employees allege that this was an illegal conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other’s employees and drove down wages. These tech companies tried to keep documents around employee retention secret. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh had rejected parts of that request.
The Palm CEO at that time was Edward Colligan and the threat that he received from Jobs was made public. Colligan also gave a sworn statement that said Jobs proposed eliminating competition between the two companies for talent.
“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,” said Colligan in the statement. Colligan had told Jobs that this plan was “likely illegal” and he said that Palm was not “intimidated” by that threat. “If you choose the litigation route, we can respond with our own claims based on patent assets, but I don’t think litigation is the answer,” said Colligan.
The court filings that were revealed earlier also detailed how Google developed their own no-hire agreements. Google’s human resources had asked Eric Schmidt, the CEO at the time and now chairman, how to handle the no-cold call agreements with competitors. Schmidt said that he preferred it be shared ‘verbally, since I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later.'” The HR director agreed with Schmidt about that. Schmidt will be questioned by plaintiff lawyers next month.
The civil case was filed under U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is In Re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-cv-2509.