If Steve Jobs Were Alive, He Could Have Been In Jail

Steve Jobs
(Photo : Getty Images) Steve Jobs was a pioneer in the digital age, bringing a revolution in tech products, changing the way everyday people listened to music, used their phones and watched television.

Steve Jobs was well liked in Silicon Valley and admired by many others. "Genius" is not a word thrown around often, but it is when Jobs is the topic. He was a brilliant creative and a ruthlessly competitive businessman.

Perhaps too ruthless, according to some.

If Jobs were alive today, he might be in jail for his alleged attempts to prevent competitors from poaching employees, according to James B. Stewart at The New York Times.

Herbert Hovenkamp, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law and an expert in antitrust law, told The New York Times Jobs' practices were illegal.

Jobs "was a walking antitrust violation," Hovenkamp said. "I'm simply astounded by the risks he seemed willing to take." 

Apple's leader was supposedly the driving force behind a conspiracy to prevent competitors from poaching the company's employees. A conspiracy that blatantly violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, according to Stewart.

He pulled out some of the key phrases from the Act:

Every "conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce" is illegal, the act says. "Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine" or "by imprisonment not exceeding three years, or by both said punishments." 

The poaching scandal wasn't the only one Jobs affiliated with. 

He was at the center of an e-book price-fixing conspiracy with major publishers that recently all settled with Apple after it appealed

Jobs was also cleared of wrongdoing in a backdating option scandal, in which "...Jobs himself received options on 7.5 million shares, which were backdated to immediately bolster their value by over $20 million. Apple admitted that the minutes of the October board meeting where the grant was supposedly approved were fabricated, that no such meeting had occurred and that the options were actually granted in December."

Five executives from other companies went to prison for backdating options but Jobs was never charged, according to Stewart.

After reflecting on the above scandals Stewart wrote:

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." 

Apple declined to comment for the story and Stewart continues with other details about Jobs and some of his practices. You can read the whole story and get a better understanding of Jobs' practices in question here.

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