January 24, 2013
The late Apple founder Steve Jobs wanted to partner with Palm Inc. to make sure both companies weren't stealing each other's employees. If Palm Inc. didn't agree to the proposed terms, Jobs threatened to file a lawsuit.
In 2007, Jobs proposed the hiring agreement to Palm Inc. and said that if they didn't agree to the terms, Apple might file a patent infringement lawsuit against Palm Inc. The CEO of Palm Inc. that Jobs made the proposal later filed an antitrust lawsuit, claiming that Apple and other technology companies violated antitrust laws when they agreed to not recruit each other's employees.
Palm Inc.'s CEO refused Job's proposal to not recruit each other's employees, stating that it was wrong and might be illegal. He also told Job's that threatening a patent lawsuit for not agreeing was out of line, according to the antitrust filing.
Apple Inc.'s executives argued that the companies that agreed to not recruit each other's employees were not harmed by the agreement. Apple said that Palm Inc. did not agree to the terms because they were already actively trying to recruit Apple employees so they wouldn't benefit from the agreement.
This antitrust lawsuit is an example of the ways companies can be held legally liable for violating antitrust and other business laws. Antitrust laws were passed to promote fair competition in the business world. These laws are supposed to prevent companies from using actions or programs that may hurt consumers or harm other businesses.
Businesses that are facing or thinking about filing an antitrust lawsuit should consult a business law attorney to discuss their specific case and issues that will need to be addressed.
Source: Bloomberg, "Jobs Threatened Suit If Palm Didn't Agree to Hiring Terms," Joel Rosenblatt, Jan. 22, 2013