Did Apple's Law Firm Confirm The Tablet? - InformationWeek

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1/14/2010
02:10 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Did Apple's Law Firm Confirm The Tablet?

An interesting bit of drama unfolded on the Internet when Gawker Media recently offered $100,000 for pictures and/or information of the unannounced Apple tablet. Predictably, Apple's law firm has struck back, issuing a cease and desist letter to Gawker Media. How much can be assumed by what Apple's lawyers say?

An interesting bit of drama unfolded on the Internet when Gawker Media recently offered $100,000 for pictures and/or information of the unannounced Apple tablet. Predictably, Apple's law firm has struck back, issuing a cease and desist letter to Gawker Media. How much can be assumed by what Apple's lawyers say?Gawker yesterday announced a "scavenger hunt" with the grand prize of $100,000. The subject being hunted? The Apple tablet computer, of course. In an ethically questionable move, the company offered cold hard cash for legitimate information about the Apple tablet. Gawker promised to give $100,000 to anyone who could get their hands on the tablet and give it to Gawker's editors (for one hour). Gawker was also offering a $10,000 prize to anyone who sent in real pictures of the device.

Apple responded less than 24 hours later.

In a letter dated today, Apple's legal counsel said:

While Apple values and appreciates vibrant public commentary about its products, we believe you and your company have crossed the line by offering a bounty for the theft of Apple's trade secrets. Such an offer is illegal and Apple insists that you immediately discontinue the Scavenger Hunt.

The information you are willing to pay for, such as photos of a yet-to-be released product, constitutes Apple trade secrets.

Apple has maintained the types of information and things you are soliciting-"how it'll work, its size, the name, the software," as well as any possible details about the product's appearance, features, and physical samples-in strict confidence."

Apple is demanding that Gawker respond by 6PM today. It is also demanding that if Gawker does, indeed, receive information about any of its products, that it immediately inform Apple and refrain from publishing them. The last line of the letter is great. It reads, "Apple reserves the right to seek any remedies against you, your company, and anyone who makes an illegal submission to you in response to the offer."

This is exactly the legal tactic that one would expect Apple to take. The big question is, does Apple's response actually confirm anything? Gizmodo believes it does. In fact, the headline of the post reads, "Apple Confirms Tablet Existence WIth Cease And Desist Letter." I don't think it's that clear. Apple would have responded this way if Gawker had offered a reward for information about any of its products. Apple never mentions the tablet in its letter to Gawker. It only explains why Gawker's offer to exchange information for trade secrets is illegal. It cites a number of California laws, but not once to is refer to or even use the word "tablet."

What's Gawker going to do? Well, according to Jason Chen, who posted the letter on Gizmodo, "Oh well, you have to do what you have to do: The offer still stands. Just don't do anything illegal to get any of the evidence, and use an anonymous mail when sending your picts or video." Is that Gawker's official response?

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