A civil lawsuit claiming that Apple, among a number of other major tech companies thwarted competition for employment by conspiring to disallow the companies from poaching employees. The result of this action would mean lower wages for employees and the inability to seek gainful employment in a truly competitive market. A court filing yesterday indicates that the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs threatened Palm with a patent lawsuit if they did not agree to eliminate competition for talent between the two.
In a written statement, former Palm CEO Ed Colligan states,
“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 refuted Jobs arrangement calling it “likely illegal” and went on to say that he was not intimidated by the threat. Palm had a rather large stable of patents which they could have used should the two enter litigation, though Colligan suggested this course was not the answer. Palm has since been sold to HP, where they abandoned their smartphone and tablet business.
Other companies involved in the lawsuit include Google and Intel. This does not seem legal, let alone ethical. Unless an employee has a contract that implicitly states they cannot leave for a competing company, they should be free to pursue employment with another technology company in the same field.