New documents have come to light in an antitrust suit against major technology companies that shows late Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs threatened Palm Inc. with patent litigation if the company did not agree to refrain from poaching Apple employees.

Five technology workers brought the civil suit against Apple, Google Inc., Intel Corp. and other major players in the tech industry, accusing them of a conspiracy to lower wages by eliminating competition for employees. While the companies involved have tried to keep many of the documents associated with the litigation secret, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh allowed the email between Jobs and then-Palm CEO Edward Colligan to enter the public record.

In a statement, Colligan said that if Palm didn’t agree to the anti-poaching agreement, “Palm could face lawsuits alleging infringement of Apple’s many patents.”

The email adopts a threatening tone, reading, in part, “I’m sure you realize 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.’”

Several tech companies, including Apple and Google, settled with the Department of Justice over a probe into these anticompetitive practices in 2010. As part of the settlement, the companies promised not to make deals in which they agreed not to poach one other’s employees.

Koh is currently considering whether to allow the civil suit to proceed as a class action.

Read more at Reuters.


For more InsideCounsel coverage of tech industry lawsuits, see below:

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Microsoft, Motorola Mobility seek to keep trade secrets private after trial