Steve Jobs was forcing his staff to stay with Apple by threatening to start a patent war with any technology company who head hunted them.
Jobs liked the idea of patent trolling other IT companies to force them to obey his will and it was a tactic he would later employ against his business partner Samsung for daring to compete against him and stealing his treasured rounded rectangle idea.
A communication from Jobs surfaced in a civil lawsuit brought by five tech workers against Apple, Google, Intel and others, alleging an illegal conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other’s employees and drive down wages.
Of course, Apple tried to censor the email from the general public but US district judge Lucy Koh rejected parts of that request, which led to details of Jobs’ 2007 communications with then-Palm chief executive Edward Colligan becoming part of the public record.
Jobs proposed eliminating competition between the two companies for talent but threatened that if Palm did not agree it could face lawsuits alleging infringement of Apple’s many patents, Colligan told the court.
Apple did not have to win any of the patent court cases, it could just empty Palm’s bank account for legal fees. Palm was later bought by HP.
Colligan told Jobs that the plan was “likely illegal,” and that Palm was not “intimidated” by the threat. He threatened to arm his own patent briefs unless Jobs slung his hook.