Steve Jobs threatened Palm with a patent lawsuit if they didn’t agree not to hire Apple employees, says a report from Reuters on a court filing made public on Tuesday. The filing is part of a class action suit against Apple, Google, Pixar, Lucasfilm and others over an “anti-poaching” agreement where the parties agreed not to hire each others employees.
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 in an email, saying that Jobs’ “anti-poaching” proposal was not only wrong, it was likely illegal, and went on to say that Palm didn’t target other companies employees, just the best people they could find.
Colligan also stated to Jobs that he was not intimidated by the threat of patent litigation, and that Palm had some recently acquired patents that the company could use to defend itself against Apple and its iPhone patents.
It has been previously revealed in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs that the Apple co-founder was angry at Palm for hiring former Apple employees, but the threat of patent action against Palm is a new revelation.