Here’s how some of your Silicon Valley sausage gets made. The Verge has details of emails between some of Silicon Valley‘s most powerful players outlining a no-hire pact, for which they would not steal employees from each other. In an email Steve Jobs wrote to Palm‘s Ed Colligan, he suggested the now-defunct tech firm “take a look at our patent portfolio before you make a final decision here.” A paragraph earlier, he had pointed out “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 also emailed Eric Schmidt and asked that Google stop recruiting iPod workers for its new phone software project, later Android. If any reply could be described as non-hindsight hindsight, it is this. “I would prefer that Omid [Ed note: Omid is presumably someone in Google HR] do it verbally since I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later?” he wrote. And all this is coming out on the day that Apple is expected to report its first fall in profits in a decade.
Although the story is not exactly new–Fast Company detailed the Apple-Palm agreement three years ago–Jobs’ allusion to a potential patent lawsuit is a new detail. The “paper trail” that Eric Schmidt so didn’t want is coming out now as a lawsuit, presided over by Judge Lucy Koh. Koh is well known in these circles–you may recall her Apple-Samsung catfight fame. The new suit, brought by five tech employees against Apple, Google, and Intel, claims an illegal conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other’s employees and drive down wages, says Reuters.