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Jobs: ‘Stop Pinching Apples’, Google

A court hearing Thursday revealed how Apple Chief Jobs wrote a bluntly worded e-mail to Google boss, Eric Schmidt, politely requesting him to stop his HR team pinching his beloved Apple engineers.

The communication came after it emerged a Google HR rep. was attempting to poach an engineer away from the clutches of Cupertino into the rival’s den in 2007.

This prompted a disgruntled Jobs to send a polite email to his Google rival, saying: “I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this. ”

Schmidt forwarded the email on to his HR guru, who said the member of the Human Resources team who contacted the Apple engineer in question will be “terminated within the hour,” Reuters reports.

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The latest tit-bit about the legendary operator Jobs came as Apple, along with Google, Intel, Adobe Systems, Pixar (the animation company Jobs also once owned), Intuit and Lucasfilm are all up before the District court in the US, accused of breaking antitrust rules, by entering into a hush hush agreement not to recruit one another’s staff.

The case is being brought against tech industry’s top dogs by a bunch of five disgruntled engineers, who claim Apple & Co entered into what was effectively, an (alleged) HR cartel, which served to limit scope for higher wages and career progression.

These latest allegations follows an earlier investigation by US Justice Dept in 2010, which found several of the accused companies agreed to refrain from cold calling rivals employees in a bid to lure them away from rivals.

Following this investigation, the companies undertook not to engage in such secret agreements again.

However, the darlings of the tech world now deny they entered into an “overarching conspiracy,” calling on the case to be dismissed.

The case taken as a civil action, could now potentially be a fully fledged antitrust class action suit , after District Judge Lucy H. Koh said Thursday:

“They still have an antitrust claim that’s going forward so I don’t want to see any obstruction on discovery.”

However, District Judge Koh, the same Judge involved in the Apple V Samsung patents case in the US, is not impressed with the companies defense, querying “how it ties together.”

The giants may have to fork out millions in damages to affected employees who could claim loss of earnings following the alleged ‘do not call’ agreements, in particular if the case becomes a class action.

Other communications that have emerged from the case are Intel Chief Exec, Paul Otellini, who wrote in 2007 of his company’s hush hush agreements with Google:

“Let me clarify. We have nothing signed.”

“We have a handshake ‘no recruit’ between eric and myself. I would not like this broadly known.”

Pixar and Apple as well as Google and Apple are all alleged to have shared such do not call employee agreements.

The case is listed as In Re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-2509, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).