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Dead Steve Jobs sued by own shareholders in no-poach pact brouhaha

'His conduct a reminder that businessmen commit unlawful acts in zealous pursuit of profit'

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Apple is once again facing a lawsuit, this time from its own shareholders over its no-poaching-of-staff pacts with rivals.

A lawsuit [PDF] filed in California's San Jose District Court earlier this week claims the Cupertino giant misled investors and damaged the value of the company by striking a fishy hiring agreement with other corporations.

The class-action suit, filed by shareholder R. Andre Klein on behalf of all Apple shareholders, claims the iPhone giant committed "breach of fiduciary duty, gross mismanagement, corporate waste, and breach of the duty of honest services." The sueball names Apple CEO Tim Cook and the late cofounder Steve Jobs among the defendants in the case.

According to the filing, Apple violated provisions of the US Securities and Exchange Act when executives crafted agreements with Google, Intel, Adobe and more, to not actively recruit employees away from each other.

The suit notes that Jobs (whose estate is listed as a defendant in the case) was particularly egregious in sealing deals with rival execs.

"Jobs's conduct is a reminder that even widely respected businessmen can knowingly commit unlawful acts in the zealous pursuit of profits," the suit alleges.

"In this case, Jobs and the other Individual Defendants knowingly caused Apple to enter into agreements that violated California law and U.S. antitrust laws."

The suit seeks unspecified payouts from the company for damages to shareholders from the negative impact of the case on the company's value.

Apple lost a similar class-action case brought by ex-employees who felt they had been stiffed by the no-poach pact, and the iOS slinger looks to be on the hook for a substantial payout. The biz had offered a package worth $325m which the plaintiffs' lawyers accepted, but the deal was called off by Judge Lucy Koh over concerns that Apple and the other defendants were low-balling the workers. ®

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