According to some emails sent by Google’s Sergey Brin back in 2005 that recently surfaced during a class-action lawsuit over the do-not-hire policies of the two companies (among others), that may not be the case. This “thermonuclear war,” as Steve Jobs put it, was a long time coming. Android was just the last straw.

In one of those emails, Brin mentions that “[Jobs] said ‘if you hire a single one of these [Safari engineers] that means war’.” It’s no secret that Jobs often became irate when products failed to meet expectations, but here we see an example of the Apple co-founder ready to declare war on what was, at the time, a friendly company. The reason? According to another email sent by Brin, Google’s talent acquisition team had contacted a single Apple employee with experience building browsers, apparently to help work on the Chrome project. Jobs accused Google of intentionally poaching members of the Safari team, and the rest is spelled out in Google’s internal emails.

The mutual agreements that resulted? Employees of the companies with such arrangements were not as easily placated as their bosses: because they could no longer receive offers from competitors, they didn’t have the power to bargain with their own employers for higher salaries or pursue more money elsewhere. Not exactly ethical or legal…

Non-poaching emails show Jobs was warring with Google long before iPhone was launched | 9to5Mac.