Apple visited finder of 4G iPhone prototype before police did – report

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“Apple Inc. reportedly knew who sold an apparent iPhone prototype before police broke into the home of a tech blog’s editor last week,” The Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal reports.

MacDailyNews Note: According to everyone involved, the police had a search warrant.

The Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal continues, “Wired on Tuesday reported about a visit by people who said they represented Apple to the home of a college age person who is said to have found the iPhone at a Redwood City beer garden. Wired didn’t name the purported finder nor the source who it identified as somebody involved in the find.”

MacDailyNews Take: iPhone OS 4’s latest undocumented feature unmasked: Find My Top-secret, In-disguise, Fourth-generation, Beer-soaked iPhone.

The Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal reports, “The source said the purported Apple representatives were turned away from the Silicon Valley home of the finder after asking for permission to search the premises. The San Mateo County district attorney’s office said on Tuesday they have identified and interviewed the person who took the iPhone from the Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City on March 18. Police say they became involved in the matter after lawyers representing Apple reported the iPhone as having been stolen.”

“Wired said its source also disputed characterizing the $5,000 paid by as a sale. Instead it is said to was an agreement for exclusivity,” The Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal reports. “‘It was made very explicit that Gizmodo was to help the finder return the phone to its rightful owner or give it back,’ the source reportedly said. ‘Gizmodo said they could help restore the phone [to its owner].’ Gizmodo returned the iPhone to Apple last week after dismantling it and publishing stories, photos and video about it.”

More info and links int he full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “JES42” for the heads up.]


  1. “Even if the door were left open, they had no inherent “right” to enter the property. Ergo, they “broke in”. Their warrant, in theory, gave them the legal right to do so.”


  2. OK, what did I miss? Was the phone stolen or was it found? If it was found and not stolen then what is the crime?

    The car analogy is good, however, dont we often find and keep things ourselves?

    Is it really stolen just because it was not turned into the “lost and found”?

  3. DLMeyer;

    No, a warrant does not grant police the rights to enter a citizen’s home “in theory”. It is an inherent right as part of the warrant process. Once the police have a valid warrant in hand, they DO have the right to enter, even if the owner/occupant is not home.

    Of course, lawyers can argue (and do, incessantly) as to whether that warrant may be valid or not, but that is AFTER the fact.

    If a competent court holds that warrant to have been procured under false pretenses, the cure is to disallow any and all evidence found under that warrant.

    But the police DO have the right to enter using that warrant. And the California shield law does NOT confer immunity on journalists suspected of violating the law themselves. Which is why Gizmoto is trying to spin that $5000 as a payment for exclusivity and not a payment for purchase of the phone.

  4. Sounds like the roommate is spinning this to get shield law protection for the ‘source’ no?

    I say he was never a legit source worth protecting. It’s stolen goods and industrial espionage.

  5. For the last time this is not a police state, now up against the wall mofo, and don’t call me a red necked pig or I’ll kill you and squeal while I do it.

    Magic word is make, as in make me an offer I can’t refuse.

  6. This isn’t a big surprise. I think everyone’s forgetting the “Find My iPhone” feature of MobileMe. Apple could move a lot faster to go to the guy’s house and ask for the iPhone back. Nothing wrong with that. The guy said no when Apple asked if they could look for the iPhone.

    The police did not “break in.” They had a valid search warrant, which gives them the right to enter the premises and search it, whether someone is home or not. If that means actually breaking a lock to enter, they can do so, but it is not “breaking in.” They entered lawfully; “breaking in” is entering unlawfully.

  7. so Gizmodos defense becomes clear.

    “Look we paid 5000 for the right to return the device to its rightful owner – before it was returned we documented the device we found – there was no law broken because we found the device and returned it – since it was found we have the right to report about it”

    interesting tactic…

  8. @maclouie: “finders keepers” only applies to the playground. It doesn’t apply to cars parked at the curb, cell phones in bars, or lost children in the supermarket.

    So Apple gave the finder a chance to return the stole goods before they called the cops on them. That sounds generous to me.

    The police didn’t involved until the victim of the theft reported the crime. I’ve never heard of the police getting involved before they become aware of the crime. If this is newsworthy, their next breaking story will be that the letters of the alphabet are in alphabetical order.

    Now Gizmodo is asserting that there is a first-amendment right to commit felonies, fence stolen goods, and violate intellectual property rights. If they prevail with that argument, anyone whose poses as a journalist could break into my house and steal my stuff with impunity.

    There is a difference between a police state and the state police. This is the latter.

  9. Maybe one of the legal scholars who frequent MDN can enlighten me a little ..

    Ok.. earlier reports say the “finder” called Apple first
    to try to return the iPhone.. and was told that no iPhone was reported missing …

    Does this action constitute a “good faith” effort to return
    it ?

    If so.. then the “theft” wasn’t his… right ?

    And if I am understanding this correctly– the “theft” happened when Gizmodo paid the 5 grand for it– right ?
    Even though, (it could be argued) — that Gizmodo didn’t actually know it was the genuine article until Apple demanded the return of the iPhone –right ?

    The National Enquirer has been practicing “checkbook journalism” for many years without legal hassles– so, from a legal standpoint — what’s the difference here ?

    And for those astute in California law— can a judge in Santa Clara County issue a search warrant to be executed in Alameda County ?

    Either way— this case has the potential to reach the US Supreme Court, judging from all the coverage.. and should that happen, I wonder how Apple will fare in the long run ? —

    Apple might win the legal battle, but, in the end– will they win the battle for public opinion ?

    Which is more important ?

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