APPLE, Google, Intel and Adobe are arguing to leave Steve Jobs out of a court case that turns on an alleged "no hire" agreement that suppressed free movement of employees between the firms.
The Guardian reports that lawyers for Apple have asked that witnesses be barred from testifying about Jobs in less than favourable terms because it's not really part of the case.
"Plaintiffs' only purpose for offering this testimony would be improper - to cast Mr Jobs in a bad light," they wrote in a filing. "Free-floating character assassination is improper."
The case goes back a few years and in 2010 the companies were close to resolving complaints about 'no poaching' arrangements that kept workers from advancing their careers and stuck with their employers.
The firms reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), but it was obvious then that workers' claims might follow.
The attorneys' request to exclude testimony about Jobs comes in advance of a workers' lawsuit expected to go to trial in the early summer. Legal arguments were laid before US District Court Judge Lucy Koh, a jurist with firm views against technology company shenanigans.
Jobs' attitude about rival companies hiring his staff was a rather hard one, and back in 2009 Palm was reeling over messages from the former Apple CEO.
In 2007, Jobs attempted to pressure Palm into accepting a "gentlemen's agreement" that the PDA maker would not poach his staff, but the handheld device company resisted.
It resisted even in the face of a not very veiled threat that Jobs and Apple had the resources to blow Palm out of the water with patent lawsuits should it not bow to his demands.
"I'm sure you realise the asymmetry in the financial resources of our respective companies... just for the record, when Siemens sold their handset business to BenQ they didn't sell them their essential patents, but rather just gave them a licence," wrote Jobs in a letter to former Palm CEO Edward Colligan.
"The patents they did sell to BenQ [which Palm subsequently purchased] are not that great... My advice is to take a look at our patent portfolio before you make a final decision here."
The lawyers are asking that Jobs' letter, and the DoJ business from 2010 be left out of this summer's proceedings.
"To admit evidence of the DOJ investigation for any purpose would be unduly prejudicial, because the jury might incorrectly assume defendants have admitted to or been found guilty of antitrust violations," they added in the filing. µ