Underneath the high profile lawsuits involving patent infringement, there has been another which we haven’t been following that closely. A suit involving some of the world’s largest tech companies. Civil litigation against Apple, Google and five others has been running on in the background for a relatively short time.
The essence of the new lawsuit is that these companies are being brought before judge for having “gentlemen’s agreements” in place. Essentially, agreeing not to poach each others’ staff.
New evidence has been brought to court as of yesterday, Friday 27th. The evidence in question is a series of short emails between Steve Jobs, Apple’s late founder, and Eric Schmidt of Google. Back in 2007 Google attempted to hire one of Cupertino’s engineers. Jobs wrote: “I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this.”
Schmidt, a former Apple chief, forwarded the email to the head of staffing, who promised Steve Jobs in a reply that the matter would be dealt with decisively. Along with apologies to Jobs, he stated that the person’s contract would “be terminated within the hour.”
Intel, and Palm are both involved in this case. Interestingly, many of them have “handshake agreements”, as written ones can’t be actioned – mostly due to the practice bordering on the wrong side of legal.
What are your thoughts on these agreements? Are they honorable agreements between firms, or should they be prevented in favor of competition?