Jobs' 'thermonuclear war' quote fair game in court, judge says

A judge has denied Apple's request to keep controversial details from Steve Jobs' authorized biography out of a court case between it and Motorola.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
The cover of "Steve Jobs," by Walter Isaacson.
The cover of "Steve Jobs," by Walter Isaacson. Simon & Schuster

Controversial quotes made by late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs last year claiming Google's Android operating system was a "wholesale" rip-off will be fair game as evidence in court, a judge said this week.

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson, in the book, which hit shelves last October.

"I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this," Jobs said.

Apple last month filed a request to keep this quote, and other details from Isaacson's book, out of court in its current litigation with Motorola Mobility "to avoid any potential prejudice to Apple." Chicago federal judge Richard Posner wouldn't have any of that, Reuters reports. Yesterday Posner denied that request.

This is not the only time details from Isaacson's biography have been brought up as evidence in a legal complaint. In its lawsuit against Apple and e-book publishers earlier this year, the Department of Justice cited a section of the book where Jobs is discussing Apple's entry into the e-books market, comparing it to an "akido move" in the hopes of taking out rival Amazon. In a rebuttal earlier this month, Apple called the quote "hearsay" and "irrelevant."

Apple filed suit against Motorola and Motorola Mobility on October 29, 2010, accusing the gadget maker of infringing on three of its patents on various smartphones. Besides damages, the complaint also seeks a sales ban against those products in the U.S. The spat is just part of a larger battle between the two companies. The two have also been at odds over patents with the complaints filed against one another with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Google bought Motorola Mobility as part of a $12.5 billion deal last August, which closed last week. Google has said the company will operate independently, though it also gives Google access to more than 17,000 of Motorola's patents, and 7,500 patent applications.

Disclosure: Simon & Schuster, the publisher of the upcoming Steve Jobs biography, is owned by CBS. CNET News is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.

Updated at 2:55 p.m. PT with additional background throughout.