The NY Times wonders if Steve Jobs were alive today, should he be in jail? The writer argues Jobs was the driving force in a conspiracy to rig the Silicon Valley job market by going to extreme lengths to prevent other companies from hiring Apple employees. On top of that, Jobs also was at the center of an option backdating scandal at both Apple and Pixar, and was involved in an eBook price-fixing conspiracy with major book publishers.
Despite the strict language of the Sherman Act, the Justice Department tends to file criminal antitrust charges only in the most egregious cases, and by that standard, Mr. Jobs would probably never have been charged. Still, Mr. Jobs’s conduct is a reminder that the difference between genius and potentially criminal behavior can be a fine line. Mr. Jobs “always believed that the rules that applied to ordinary people didn’t apply to him,” Walter Isaacson, author of the best-selling biography “Steve Jobs,” told me this week. “That was Steve’s genius but also his oddness. He believed he could bend the laws of physics and distort reality. That allowed him to do some amazing things, but also led him to push the envelope.”
Professor Hovenkamp characterized both the e-book agreements and the anti-poaching pact as “blatant restraints of trade.” Mr. Jobs, he said, “was so casual about it, so bold. Didn’t he have lawyers advising him? You see this kind of behavior sometimes in small, private or family-run companies, but almost never in large public companies like Apple.”