updated 10:58 pm EST, Tue January 22, 2013
Court filing reveals emails from Apple CEO to Palm CEO
In documents revealed in the employee anti-poaching hearings in front of Judge Lucy Koh in California, it was disclosed that Apple CEO Steve Jobs threatened Palm with a patent lawsuit if it didn't agree to stop poaching Apple employees. The communication from Jobs to then-CEO Edward Colligan surfaced in a hearing regarding class-action status in a suit brought by five tech workers against Apple, Google, and Intel, alleging a conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other's employees to ultimately drive down wages.
"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. Colligan reportedly told Jobs that the plan was illegal, and Palm would not cede to Apple's demand.
Also revealed in the court filing is an exchange between Google then-CEO Eric Schmidt and Google's human resources director regarding sharing its no-cold-call agreements with competitors. Schmidt responded that he preferred it be shared "verbally, since I don't want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later," according to the court filing. The HR director agreed with the CEO.
Plaintiff attorneys have estimated damages in the suit could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Adobe attorney Robert Mittelstaedt, as part of the defense team, claimed that the plaintiffs had no evidence that the employees were actually impacted, financially or otherwise, by the deals between the companies' CEOs.
Judge Koh ordered Apple CEO Tim Cook to be deposed by plaintiff attorneys for up to four hours in the matter. The judge believes that internal emails such as the ones between Schmidt and HR, and with Jobs and Colligan would prove that the companies felt the agreement would provide financial benefits to each other, despite the accord being in violation of Federal law.