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Steve Jobs threatened Palm with patent litigation to stop it poaching Apple employees

The email came to light as part of a civil antitrust suit accusing tech companies of an anti-competitive conspiracy

New documents have come to light in an antitrust suit against major technology companies that shows late Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs threatened Palm Inc. with patent litigation if the company did not agree to refrain from poaching Apple employees.

Five technology workers brought the civil suit against Apple, Google Inc., Intel Corp. and other major players in the tech industry, accusing them of a conspiracy to lower wages by eliminating competition for employees. While the companies involved have tried to keep many of the documents associated with the litigation secret, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh allowed the email between Jobs and then-Palm CEO Edward Colligan to enter the public record.

In a statement, Colligan said that if Palm didn’t agree to the anti-poaching agreement, “Palm could face lawsuits alleging infringement of Apple's many patents.”

The email adopts a threatening tone, reading, in part, “I’m sure you realize the asymmetry in the financial resources of our respective companies when you say: ‘We will both just end up paying a lot of lawyers a lot of money.’”

Several tech companies, including Apple and Google, settled with the Department of Justice over a probe into these anticompetitive practices in 2010. As part of the settlement, the companies promised not to make deals in which they agreed not to poach one other’s employees.

Koh is currently considering whether to allow the civil suit to proceed as a class action.

Read more at Reuters.


For more InsideCounsel coverage of tech industry lawsuits, see below:

Parent company’s litigation keeps tech site from giving Dish Network an award

Apple not the only company able to use the term “app store,” judge says

Apple drops patent claims against Samsung smartphone only sold in Europe

No injunctions against Apple, Samsung products in the U.S. and Europe

Microsoft, Motorola Mobility seek to keep trade secrets private after trial

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