Appeal filed in Apple trade secrets suit

“Online journalists who published secrets about Apple Computer Inc. filed an appeal Tuesday in a case that could have broad implications for the media,” The Associated Press reports. “A California judge ruled March 11 that three independent online reporters may have to provide the identities of their confidential sources and that they weren’t protected by ‘shield laws’ that usually protect journalists.”

AP reports, “In December, Apple sued 25 unnamed individuals, called “Does” and believed to be Apple employees, who leaked specifications about a product code-named ‘Asteroid’ to Monish Bhatia, Jason O’Grady and another person who writes under the pseudonym Kasper Jade. Their articles appeared in the online publications Apple Insider and PowerPage.”

“On Tuesday, attorneys representing the journalists filed an appeal, as expected. They argued that the judge’s ruling violated the First Amendment and that Apple should first subpoena its own employees or use sophisticated computer forensics to determine the sources of the leak before subpoenaing the journalists,” AP reports. “Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined specific comment on the appeal, but said: ‘Apple’s DNA is innovation, and protection of trade secrets is crucial to our success.'”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Dvorak weighs in on Apple vs. ‘rumor website’ lawsuits – March 16, 2005
Apple wins key ruling; three people who published trade secrets must reveal sources – March 11, 2005
Apple’s lawsuits to guard against rumor sites cause sour taste for some – March 09, 2005
Commentator: Apple need to patch its own ‘leaks’ to better protect trade secrets – March 07, 2005
Think Secret files motion to have Apple lawsuit dismissed – March 04, 2005
Attorneys expect decision ‘early next week’ on Apple trade secrets hearing – March 04, 2005
Forbes writer wonders if Apple is the new Microsoft – March 04, 2005
Apple wins initial ruling in ‘Asteriod’ case, can pursue publishers’ confidential sources – March 03, 2005
Apple suspends legal action against three journalists – February 17, 2005
ThinkSecret’s Ciarelli gains pro bono legal help in defense of Apple lawsuit – January 19, 2005
ThinkSecret’s Nick Ciarelli says he can’t afford to defend himself against Apple lawsuit – January 15, 2005
Harvard Student and ThinkSecret owner Nick Ciarelli faces Apple’s legal wrath over product ‘leaks’ – January 13, 2005
Stop the presses! Apple sues ThinkSecret over ‘Headless Mac,’ ‘iWork,’ and other rumors – January 05, 2005
Apple Computer sues three for posting Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ on Web – December 21, 2004
Apple sues anonymous people over leak of unreleased Apple product info on Web – December 17, 2004
RUMOR: Apple preps analog to FireWire audio device for GarageBand users – November 23, 2004


  1. Why blame the burglars when you left the house open and the alarm off. I hope apple does not win this suit. Bad karma for Apple if they do. ( and I own a few shares..still)

    Ok self righteous posters start your engines

  2. Excellent point dobbie.

    We shouldn’t even call them burglars in that case. How about “opportunists”?

    In fact, we should completely overhaul US law and make it so that unless you have something sealed away in an underground vault with 37ft thick iron walls that can only be accessed via retinal scan, voice print identification, and DNA match then that thing is completely fair game to any and all people. It’s essentially public property, if you will.

    Why blame the burglars, even if you leave the house open and alarm off? Because it is illegal to enter the domain of another and remove anything without permission.


  3. What exactly do you mean by “left the house open and the alarm off”? What do you propose Apple should have done to keep these secrets…well, uh…secret?

    Perhaps some sort of remote laboratory, where the software developers have their e-mails, phone calls, etc. monitored and are not premitted to leave?

    No, of course not. The fact of the matter is, and I fully admit this is why I initially was against this law suit, we are all angry that it will slow the rate and decrease the accuracy of Mac rumors which is no fun at all…

  4. There’s also the question about if reporting this information constitutes the Public’s need to know. Did we benefit by this information in any way, such as reporting about side effects from medicine or a danger when eating hamburgers from a certain fast food chain? Did is serve the public interest? I think that’s where the fine line lies. In no way did was this information crucial to the public interest, I believe it was acquired via illegal means (Breaking a NonDisclosureAgreement *IS* illegal and reporting information from such an act is also illegal) and even a Journalist isn’t protected under the shield laws under such a condition.

  5. The only way any secrets could get out of the company is:
    a) Apple employees telling someone.
    b) Someone overhearing an Apple employee telling someone (like some whispers at a tradeshow).
    c) Someone stealing some info from Apple by breaking in or finding some paperwork or info on a computer or email.

    Wonder what would happen if the websites being charged with high treason would admit that their leak was from some high-up at Apple who made a slip of the tongue somewhere?
    Will this top exec at Apple get the ax?

    (I still think it all has to do with some internal problem where Apple fired an employee, this disgruntle employee is suing Apple, Apple heard the rumor that this employee divuldged secret info and hope to use this against the employee in the lawsuit.)

    A Steve inspired soap opera that could have been handled much differently. All in all a black eye for Apple – and where are all the lib democrats and freedom of speech people? With big Al Gore (democrat) on the board of Apple and Steve (big $$$ donator to the Democrats) Jobs it seems they have squealched/killed off the freedom of speechers that would be screaming if this lawsuit had been started by say, Halliburton…

    The whole thing is just so contrary to the product Apple is promoting – the computer – the way to increase communications and transperancy. And the irony is that all this was done probably using Apple computers to put the info out to the public.

  6. dobbie,

    You’re right. Apple should only hire Oompaloompas from now on, like Willy Wonka did to protect his secrets in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

    Oh, wait a minute… I have it on good authority that Roald Dahl MADE THE OOMPALOOMPAS UP, and so therefore Apple will not be able to go forward with their Oompaloompa R&D team.


    They write stuff on a computer and sell ad space, just like ‘real’ journalists do. Sorta like how I’m a Formula One driver, because I drive a car and wear a snazzy jumpsuit. Okay, I don’t really wear a jumpsuit… The only people who call them ‘journalists’ are fellow Apple rumor website owners, who fear for their own livelihood, and strangely enough, real journalists, whose only knowlege of the law begins and ends with the First Amendment. These are the same people who look down derisively at the blogging phenomenon when it makes them look like weak pussies…

  7. I am 100% behind Apple on this. I work with a start up software development firm and trade secretes is all we have. We live in an age of intangible goods and fortunes. My success lies with the secret management of lines of digital code, 1’s and 0’s.

    We have them and I am pretty sure that Apple has non-Disclosure agreements with all their employees. Who ever ddi this knew very well what they were doing and should be well aware of the consequences. Yes, this may be a slow end to the rumor mills that we have enjoyed these years, but where does it end? Microsuck already is having a field day stealing ideas from every code developer on the planet, including Apple (see the latest), are we so greedy and selfish that we feel we need this news at the expense of our fames company?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for freedom of press, but that freedom was intended to communicate the truth without government censorship, not to be perverted to allow any Tom, Dick and Harry spill their secret guts. Get over your 15 minutes of fame you blabber mouths. Loose lips sink ships!

  8. I wonder who will pay the highest penalty:
    1) The website owner that published the secret.
    2) The person that got the info from the Apple employee and gave it to the website.
    3) The Apple employee that gave the info.

    And since I am ignorant on this – what exactly harm came to Apple regarding this leak? (Besides the fact that somebody disclosed it who shouldn´t have.)

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