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Wednesday, 16 April 2014 10:45

Nutty Silicon Valley lawyers try to defend their dead god

Written by Nick Farrell

Keep him out of court

Nutty tech industry lawyers are trying to suppress key evidence in an employment trial because it makes Steve Jobs look worse than he did in the Jobs’ flick. Emails between Steve Jobs and Google's Eric Schmidt will form part of the case alleging anti-poaching deals between technology companies. 

However, lawyers representing the cartel which are charged with operating anti-competitive employment practices are keen to make sure that Jobs comes out of it with Jobs’ reputation of being a tech god who was nice to children and puppies intact. Witnesses at an upcoming trial over no-hire agreements in Silicon Valley should not be allowed to offer evidence that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was "a bully," the court was told. This is going to be a little tricky because the emails show Jobs to be completely lacking in compassion and hounding Schmidt to fire a recruiter who had dared to hire an Apple employee.

Schmidt told Jobs that the recruiter would be fired, court documents show. Jobs then forwarded Schmidt's note to a top Apple human resources executive with a smiley face. In a joint court filing late last week, the companies told US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California that they were not seeking to bar Jobs' interactions with other witnesses about the no-hire agreements. However, they did not want opinions based on other evidence, such as Walter Isaacson's bestselling biography about Jobs involved in the trial.

Plaintiffs' only purpose for offering this testimony would be improper - to cast Jobs in a bad light, the companies said in the filing, adding that such evidence has no bearing on whether any defendant entered into an illegal conspiracy. Given that this would be the second conspiracy that Jobs was alleged to have been involved in, we would have thought that evidence would have been useful for a jury to know. Otherwise they would just believe the Apple spin about its founder.

"Free-floating character assassination is improper," they wrote. 

They also want the case not to involve evidence gathered in government probe into their anti-trust antics saying that would be unduly prejudicial. Apparently, the jury might incorrectly assume defendants have admitted to or been found guilty of antitrust violations, the lawyers think.

Walt Disney's Lucasfilm and Pixar, previously headed by Jobs, and the software company Intuit have already agreed to a settlement, with Disney paying about $9m and Intuit paying $11m. A hearing on final settlement approval is scheduled for 1 May.

 

Nick Farrell

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