Apple proposed ?no poaching? deal with Palm

Plan rejected by Palm as ?likely illegal?
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Plan rejected by Palm as ?likely illegal?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggested to Palm’s former chief executive that the two companies form an agreement not to poach each other’s staff, according to reports.

In communications between the two executives, obtained by Bloomberg, Palm’s Ed Colligan rejected the plan as wrong and probably illegal.

The exchange took place in August 2007, just after Apple launched the iPhone and Palm hired former Apple exec Jon Rubinstein to develop its smartphones. Jobs reportedly told Colligan that he did not want Rubinstein recruiting Apple employees. “We must do whatever we can to stop this,” he wrote.

Rubinstein, who formerly headed Apple’s iPod unit, succeeded Colligan as CEO of Palm in June this year.

Although the communications obtained by Bloomberg do not contain details of Jobs’ proposed deal, Colligan told him that he had considered and rejected the plan. “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,” he wrote.

News of the executives’ conversation comes as Apple is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for potentially breaking antitrust laws by sharing board members with Google.

TechCrunch reported earlier this month that the two companies had an agreement similar to the one Jobs allegedly proposed to Colligan.