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Palm Thumbed Nose At Apple's 'No Poaching' Plea: Report

Apple CEO Steve Jobs tried to get former Palm CEO Ed Colligan to agree that the companies wouldn't hire away each other's workers, a proposal Colligan turned down, a new report indicates.

The August 2007 communications between the two CEOs concerning the proposed antipoaching deal were examined in a report this week by Bloomberg.

"We must do whatever we can to stop this," Bloomberg said Jobs wrote to Colligan.

Colligan, however, refused to play ball, calling Jobs' proposal wrong and possibly illegal.

"Your proposal that we agree that neither company will hire the other's employees, regardless of the individual's desires, is not only wrong, it is likely illegal," Colligan wrote in the communications, adding he considered offering hiring concessions before deciding against it.

The Bloomberg report comes as the U.S. Department of Justice probes possible collusion in hiring among high-tech companies, though Palm told Bloomberg it has not been contacted by the Justice Department.

The communications surfaced after Colligan stepped down as Palm's CEO in June. Colligan's successor, Jon Rubinstein, is a former Apple executive and 15-year Apple veteran credited with developing Apple's now-iconic iPod music player. Palm tapped Rubinstein in 2007 to help develop new phones to rival Apple and the iPhone. The first fruits of Rubinstein's tenure are the Palm Pre smartphone and Palm's new webOS operating system. The Palm Pre is seen as the Apple iPhone's chief rival in the new clash of the touch-screen titans.

Rubinstein isn't the only Apple worker wooed away by Palm. In 2007, Mike Bell joined Palm as a senior vice president of product development after 16 years at Apple. Colligan, however, claimed in the exchanges with Jobs that Apple had hired at least 2 percent of Palm's workforce during Apple's development of the iPhone, which was released in June 2007, Bloomberg reported.

Though the exact details of what Apple and Jobs proposed to Palm and Colligan are unknown, Jobs did make veiled threats against Palm if it didn't agree to his proposal, highlighting that Apple holds a number of patents and has more money than Palm if the companies ended up in a legal battle, Bloomberg said of the communications between the two executives.

And Apple has threatened to make good on Jobs' claims. In a January earnings call, Apple's acting CEO Tim Cook responded sharply to an analyst's questions about similarities between the iPhone and the Palm Pre.

"We like competition, as long as they don't rip off our IP [intellectual property], and if they do, we're going to go after anybody that does," Cook said on the call. "We will not stand for having our IP ripped off and we'll use whatever weapons we have at our disposal [to prevent that from happening]."

Apple has also managed to slap back at the Palm Pre by blocking the smartphone's access to Apple iTunes. The Palm Pre featured the ability to trick iTunes into thinking it was an iPod, but a recent iTunes update blocked the Palm Pre and any other non-Apple device from syncing with the popular music software.

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