Steve Jobs threatened Palm with patent lawsuits unless it agreed not to poach Apple staff

Steve Jobs threatened smartphone and PDA maker Palm with patent litigation unless it stopped recruiting staff from Apple, according to an email revealed in a recent court case.

In an email from Steve Jobs to Palm’s then-chief executive Edward Colligan, as republished by The Verge, Jobs threatened Palm unless it stopped hiring Apple staff.

“It is not just a matter of our employees deciding they want to join Palm. They are being actively recruited using knowledge supplied by Jon Rubenstein and Fred Anderson, with Jon personally participating in the recruiting process. We must do whatever we can to stop this,” Jobs said.

Jobs goes on in the email to explicitly threaten Palm with legal action over the matter.

“I’m sure you realize [sic] 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’.”

Jobs then raises Palm’s recent takeover of former Siemens handset subsidiary BenQ, claiming the deal opened Palm up for a patent lawsuit.

“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 licence. The patents they did sell to BenQ are not that great. We looked at them ourselves when they were for sale.

“We are not concerned about them at all. My advice is to look at our patent portfolio before you make a final decision here.”

The email comes against the backdrop of a series of patent lawsuits between Apple and other leading smartphone manufacturers.


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