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MacRumors
May 26, 2006, 05:54 PM
http://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com)

Macworld reports (http://www.macworld.com/news/2006/05/26/appeal/) that Judge James Klienberg of the State of California Court of Appeal 6th Appellate District has issued a ruling in the Apple lawsuit (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2004/12/20041217183705.shtml) over the Asteroid leak (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2004/11/20041123012226.shtml), agreeing with defense claims that the websites were protected by the First Amendment.

The suit was filed in December 2004 against "anonymous parties" after a leak about an unannounced FireWire breakout box, but it became clear that Apple had targeted PowerPage.org as well as AppleInsider.com and ThinkSecret.com.

Powerpage.org's Jason O'Grady defended his position (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2006/04/20060410080233.shtml) last month. Earlier court decisions had gone against the websites, when it was ruled that the information Apple classified as a trade secret was not covered under journalistic protection. The case also brought up the question of whether or not authors of articles at these websites should be considered journalists.

In rendering his decision Judge James Klienberg said, "we can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news. Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment, which is to identify the best, most important, and most valuable ideas not by any sociological or economic formula, rule of law, or process of government, but through the rough and tumble competition of the memetic marketplace."

Defense against the suit was provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which made today's ruling available as a PDF (http://www.eff.org/Censorship/Apple_v_Does/H028579.pdf).

Doctor Q
May 26, 2006, 05:55 PM
History of the case (http://www.eff.org/Censorship/Apple_v_Does/) from the Electronic Frontier Foundation website.

Perhaps this definition will be helpful:memetic (adjective): an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation.

abhishake
May 26, 2006, 05:55 PM
And continue... MacRumors will.

odedia
May 26, 2006, 05:58 PM
This is very good news. Apple have a tendency to go overboard sometimes. A firewire breakout box? Who gives a ####? It's clear that they sued because they wanted sites like this one to go down.

HiRez
May 26, 2006, 06:05 PM
I'm glad, it's too important a precedent to set when we're really only talking about protecting Steve Jobs personal penchant for surprise, where he strokes his own large ego on stage. Yes, it's fun to watch the keynote and hear "one more thing...", but as a consumer I'd rather know more about what's coming, to base my buying decisions with my hard-earned money on facts (well OK, "facts").

ariza910
May 26, 2006, 06:12 PM
Apple is trying to protect its self as a company. They are a business and having someone leak a product before it's released hurts sales. Its doesnt matter what the product was, in this case it was a crappy FW breakout box (that still has not been released).

But what if it was something major that was leaked months in advance like the switch from PowerPC chips to INTEL. Having that information released early would have been a huge blow to Apple.

Theres a fine line between reporting news/rumors ect and stealing business trade secrets and I think in this case that line was crossed.

Kingsly
May 26, 2006, 06:13 PM
Apple legal loses a suit! :eek: :confused: :eek:

civilization as we know it will collapse.

*builds bunker*

shawnce
May 26, 2006, 06:14 PM
This is very good news. Apple have a tendency to go overboard sometimes. A firewire breakout box? Who gives a ####? It's clear that they sued because they wanted sites like this one to go down.

Umm no... Apple really just wants to know who leaked the information so they can prosecute the ones that broke their contractual agreement.

Also it doesn't matter what you think about the importance of an unreleased product but what Apple - who has a legal right and obligation - thinks is still a trade secret.

shawnce
May 26, 2006, 06:16 PM
but as a consumer I'd rather know more about what's coming

...yeah so would Apple's competition... hence why the concept of trade secrets exist.

iGary
May 26, 2006, 06:19 PM
Appple still managed to scare the living hell out of all its leaks though - ThinkSecret has not been even close to accurate for a half-year now.

HiRez
May 26, 2006, 06:27 PM
...yeah so would Apple's competition... hence why the concept of trade secrets exist.Meh. I understand that, however in my opinion it should be up to Apple to protect their own secrets and stop leaks from their own employees. That's what we're talking about here. It's not like AppleInsider is breaking into Apple HQ at night and taking spy photos. It's not the reporters' fault that someone inside wants to talk.

latergator116
May 26, 2006, 06:35 PM
This is very good news. Apple have a tendency to go overboard sometimes. A firewire breakout box? Who gives a ####? It's clear that they sued because they wanted sites like this one to go down.

I agree. I hate how Apple likes to sue everyone hese days.

Doctor Q
May 26, 2006, 06:42 PM
Apple is certainly noted for its secrecy. That drives interest in both Apple products and in rumor sites.

What worried many journalists (or "journalists", depending on your point of view), were O'Grady's claims that the information reached him without indication that it was considered a trade secret, that he pulled the information as soon as Apple requested that he do so, and that Apple nevertheless proceeded with the legal action. The flipside is that Apple may feel that leaks and those who spread them are a threat to their ability to stay ahead of competitors.

Evidence of unannounced products can interfere with sales of current products, when a current product might be thought to be on the way out or to be replaced, but that doesn't apply in this case.

Dr.Gargoyle
May 26, 2006, 06:47 PM
Generally I would defend any ruling in favor of the First Amendment. However, this is not a leak from a public elected office, nor did someone leak about any illegal activities... Consequently, I am not so sure this was a good ruling. Patents are protected by the law. Shouldn't legal business secrets/strategies be protected too? :confused:

Doctor Q
May 26, 2006, 07:01 PM
Shouldn't legal business secrets/strategies be protected too? :confused:At first that sounds like a simple "yes", but what if an employee (who has rights to know the information, but is under a nondisclosure agreement) gives out secrets to an unaffiliated party? Are both parties automatically guilty. Or does it depend on factors such as whether the "trade secret" status was also disclosed (or should have been inferred) or who the receiving party passed the information to and in what way?

jne381
May 26, 2006, 07:09 PM
I agree with the ruling, but Apple is missing the big picture. Even though leaks of what Apple might do may help competition, leaks and rumor pages help Apple in the long run. Places like Mac Rumors creates a community around he Apple brand. As a result they have an extremely loyal following that gets the most out of their machines, and spreads the praises of the brand.

It is ironic that Apple doesn't understand how the rumor sites help them, because it is parallels how the ability to copy music from a CD on to an iPod actually helps the record companies by getting more people back into listening to new music, yet the record companies will try to fight that as well.

Phobophobia
May 26, 2006, 07:13 PM
Places like Mac Rumors creates a community around he Apple brand. As a result they have an extremely loyal following that gets the most out of their machines, and spreads the praises of the brand.

The rumor sites are a product of Apple's loyal following, not the other way around.

Dr.Gargoyle
May 26, 2006, 07:17 PM
At first that sounds like a simple "yes", but what if an employee (who has rights to know the information, but is under a nondisclosure agreement) gives out secrets to an unaffiliated party? Are both parties automatically guilty.
A NDA is a legal contract. Should we throw out contract law as a result? That is more or less the consequense of this ruling. If not, what makes this contract so special, that it should be considered void? The ability to form an agreement and put it down on a paper, contract, is vital for a society.
How would you feel if someone from the Pentagon informed e.g. Washington Post about the US strategy against Al Quida? Here too you have a NDA and an unaffiliated party. Why should the law protect one but not the other?

Lixivial
May 26, 2006, 07:19 PM
Oh. This would explain why Nancy Heinan left quietly (http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1723), then!

The wrath of Steve knows no bounds.

EDIT: Haha. Properly formatted links apparently evade me; I must be a bit slow in the head.

ArizonaKid
May 26, 2006, 07:19 PM
Happy to see free speech upheld.

Kinda seems like Apple, and the Bush administration with the NSA wiretap leaks, are going in the same direction attempting to protect any leaks from public discloser.

In Apple's case they can't really argue national defense...or could they?

bluebomberman
May 26, 2006, 07:21 PM
Shouldn't legal business secrets/strategies be protected too? :confused:

Yes, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Apple has every right to bring legal hell to the source(s) of the leak. (That's what non-disclosure agreements are for.)

However, they don't necessarily have the right to throw the book at those who report the leak to the masses.

Apple knows this, which is why they don't sue, say, The Wall Street Journal for reporting the switch to Intel days before WWDC 2005. So they tried to argue that the rumor sites are not real journalists; therefore, they can be compelled to disclose the source of the leak.

The appeals court shot that argument down. The rumor sites reported on news, so therefore they get journalistic protection. Doesn't matter if the site's just one dude typing from his/her dorm room or basement.

Where the aforementioned line stands today is a matter of debate. There aren't a whole lot of instances in contemporary American history in which journalists were compelled to reveal their sources. The Valerie Plame leak case was one such instance, but that had to do with national security.

Somehow, I don't think Apple's Asteriod fits the bill.

EDIT: I guess Apple also argued that their trade secrets are not "news." That was shot down, too, by the court.

cornfedgrowth
May 26, 2006, 07:33 PM
A NDA is a legal contract. Should we throw out contract law as a result? That is more or less the consequense of this ruling. If not, what makes this contract so special, that it should be considered void?

I think that you're missing the point of this lawsuit/ruling. It is not saying that NDAs should not be honored and those who break them not liable for thier actions. In this case, the person being sued is not the person under contract with apple. This case is about whether the "reporter" who recieves the information is responsible just as much as the person who broke thier NDA. I dont know the law in this area very well, but it seems to be a big grey area.

bigbossbmb
May 26, 2006, 07:51 PM
I really hope that Apple will release Asteroid now (and in the $75-100 range).

inkswamp
May 26, 2006, 07:55 PM
:D :D :D WOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D

I love Apple's products, but they really pissed me off with this lawsuit which was wrongheaded from the start. This is a bad day for Apple, but a great day for basic freedoms. I'll support Apple as long as they continue making great products, but they can take a flying leap with this lawsuit. I'm thrilled that they lost. :p

tomokun
May 26, 2006, 07:58 PM
I really hope that Apple will release Asteroid now (and in the $75-100 range).
I would be surprised if it still would be FireWire, since they are killing that off slowly.

CHROMEDOME
May 26, 2006, 08:15 PM
I would be surprised if it still would be FireWire, since they are killing that off slowly.

I know...all the macs today have the same number of FireWire ports as the Macs in 2004.:rolleyes:

Benjamin
May 26, 2006, 08:23 PM
I know...all the macs today have the same number of FireWire ports as the Macs in 2004.:rolleyes:

With the laptop line it's actually farther back then that, from the day FireWire first started. ~2000 (FW ibook) thing is that every says that since the AL had both 400/800 ports while the MBP has only 1 of either.

Doctor Q
May 26, 2006, 08:25 PM
How would you feel if someone from the Pentagon informed e.g. Washington Post about the US strategy against Al Quida? Here too you have a NDA and an unaffiliated party. Why should the law protect one but not the other?Perhaps cornfedgrowth has already answered you, but I'd consider the person from the Pentagon legally responsible and I wouldn't be clear about whether the reporter was guilty of a crime. The reporter might be immoral or irresponsible to publish the information, but that's not the same thing as legal responsibility. In the case of national security, I assume there are additonal laws involved, and also that the reporter would be much more likely to know from the start that the leaker was in violation of the law.

In addition to comparing this case to a national security leak, we might compare it to someone giving me a stolen Mac as birthday present. If I don't know it's stolen, am I guilty of receiving stolen property? If I give it to someone else, am I further implicated in a crime? What if I sell it and give the money to the gift-giver? What if I suspected it was stolen? What if I obviously should have known it was stolen but claim I had no inkling?

Somewhere between these extremes lie the nuances the courts had to decide in this case, balancing protection of business information with free press issues. Perhaps it was decided on specific technicalities. Or it may have come down to who knew what when.

luminosity
May 26, 2006, 08:56 PM
*builds bunker*


too late. it would need to have been built already ;).

Dr.Gargoyle
May 26, 2006, 09:02 PM
Yes, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Apple has every right to bring legal hell to the source(s) of the leak. (That's what non-disclosure agreements are for.)

However, they don't necessarily have the right to throw the book at those who report the leak to the masses.

Apple knows this, which is why they don't sue, say, The Wall Street Journal for reporting the switch to Intel days before WWDC 2005. So they tried to argue that the rumor sites are not real journalists; therefore, they can be compelled to disclose the source of the leak.

The appeals court shot that argument down. The rumor sites reported on news, so therefore they get journalistic protection. Doesn't matter if the site's just one dude typing from his/her dorm room or basement.

Where the aforementioned line stands today is a matter of debate. There aren't a whole lot of instances in contemporary American history in which journalists were compelled to reveal their sources. The Valerie Plame leak case was one such instance, but that had to do with national security.

Somehow, I don't think Apple's Asteriod fits the bill.

EDIT: I guess Apple also argued that their trade secrets are not "news." That was shot down, too, by the court.
First Amendment was a brilliant idea on how to protect the democracy. The present case is not about protecting democracy, it is about a business trying to keep its intellectual property secret. There is nothing sinister or illegal about Apples wish to keep their property secret. Businesses must be allowed to protect their intellectual property. Just consider if someone gave up the source code of windows (ok, ok, ok - bad example :D ), the formular of a drug, or a specific production method. A third party receives the information and make it a public information. Should this be legal? Wouldn't just the possiblity that it could be legal decrease the incentive to invest in research? In what way would this benefit society? In what way does protecting the informant and the receiver benefit society? The intention of the First Amendment was never to protect intellectual theft. It was written to protect society. The interpretation of the First Amendment in the ruling is not protecting the society, but rather a threat to the very fundament of the society. The ability to form a binding agrement is crucial in more or less all areas of human interactions. If we corrupt contract law, we corrupt the very core of society.
Again, a NDA is a contract. Contracts are legally binding. Aiding criminal actions are illegal, hence pubishing this information on the web or in a journal should also be considered as illegal. If we choose to void this contract, what prevent us from ignoring other contracts?

* sorry about the rant...it is very late here almost 4 am*

Dr.Gargoyle
May 26, 2006, 09:15 PM
Perhaps cornfedgrowth has already answered you, but I'd consider the person from the Pentagon legally responsible and I wouldn't be clear about whether the reporter was guilty of a crime. The reporter might be immoral or irresponsible to publish the information, but that's not the same thing as legal responsibility. In the case of national security, I assume there are additonal laws involved, and also that the reporter would be much more likely to know from the start that the leaker was in violation of the law.

In addition to comparing this case to a national security leak, we might compare it to someone giving me a stolen Mac as birthday present. If I don't know it's stolen, am I guilty of receiving stolen property? If I give it to someone else, am I further implicated in a crime? What if I sell it and give the money to the gift-giver? What if I suspected it was stolen? What if I obviously should have known it was stolen but claim I had no inkling?

Somewhere between these extremes lie the nuances the courts had to decide in this case, balancing protection of business information with free press issues. Perhaps it was decided on specific technicalities. Or it may have come down to who knew what when.

If I gave you Mona Lisa for your birthday, don't you think you should be able to realize that it wasn't mine to give away? Since I seriously doubt that Thinksecret's informer is Steve Jobs (It would elevate the RDF to a new level ;)), Thinksecret should know that the information they received was illegally acquired. They should realize the information they received was a result of an illegal activity. Hence it is illegal. Any successful attempt to hide behind the First Amendment diminishes the value of the constitution.

Sun Baked
May 26, 2006, 09:33 PM
Hopefully Apple will have the case filed in criminal court, should make everyone happy -- and put to rest whether or not the material was a trade secret.

TheAnswer
May 26, 2006, 09:50 PM
They already released the Asteriod. It was called the Mac Mini.

bluebomberman
May 26, 2006, 09:58 PM
Again, a NDA is a contract. Contracts are legally binding. Aiding criminal actions are illegal, hence pubishing this information on the web or in a journal should also be considered as illegal. If we choose to void this contract, what prevent us from ignoring other contracts?

a) Reporters don't sign NDAs.
b) Free speech is constitutionally protected. NDAs are nowhere to be found in the Constitution. :D
c) Apple's Asteriod is not a case of national security.

I believe the First Amendment doesn't technically apply to ALL forms to free speech (it refers specifically to restriction of free speech and freedom of the press by Congress), but it has grown to encompass all branches of government and is a hallmark of American civil society.

Again, I must emphasize that the bar for compelling journalists (at least, until recently) to reveal sources is pretty darn high. The Valerie Plame case is the exception, not the rule.

This legal analysis should not be constituted as actual legal advice from a trained member of the American Bar Association, but rather just some dude who received a grade of B from his Constitutional Law class.

nagromme
May 26, 2006, 10:04 PM
Apple clearly has recourse against people who signed an NDA and then broke the agreement. But this is about sites who received info FROM the NDA-breakers. Unless it can be shown that these sites offered incentives to make people break their NDAs, then I don't see what basis Apple would have for action against them.

It doesn't seem like anyone from ThinkSecret et al was bribing people to break NDAs, so Apple SHOULD lose this. And get back to pursuing its own NDAs.

dwighteb
May 26, 2006, 10:20 PM
First Amendment was a brilliant idea on how to protect the democracy. The present case is not about protecting democracy, it is about a business trying to keep its intellectual property secret. There is nothing sinister or illegal about Apples wish to keep their property secret. Businesses must be allowed to protect their intellectual property. Just consider if someone gave up the source code of windows (ok, ok, ok - bad example :D ), the formular of a drug, or a specific production method. A third party receives the information and make it a public information. Should this be legal? Wouldn't just the possiblity that it could be legal decrease the incentive to invest in research? In what way would this benefit society? In what way does protecting the informant and the receiver benefit society? The intention of the First Amendment was never to protect intellectual theft. It was written to protect society. The interpretation of the First Amendment in the ruling is not protecting the society, but rather a threat to the very fundament of the society. The ability to form a binding agrement is crucial in more or less all areas of human interactions. If we corrupt contract law, we corrupt the very core of society.
Again, a NDA is a contract. Contracts are legally binding. Aiding criminal actions are illegal, hence pubishing this information on the web or in a journal should also be considered as illegal. If we choose to void this contract, what prevent us from ignoring other contracts?

* sorry about the rant...it is very late here almost 4 am*

Excuse me - could you show me the NDA contracts that PowerPage.org, AppleInsider.com and ThinkSecret.com signed with Apple? No? That's right - that's because they didn't. The issue isn't whether NDA contracts are legal/lawful/whatever - the issue is - none of those sites signed any contracts with Apple, thus have no "NDA" obligations with Apple.

The other issue - should the sites be forced to reveal their sources? I'd say "no", but that's my opinion.

pizzach
May 26, 2006, 10:28 PM
:D :D :D WOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D

I love Apple's products, but they really pissed me off with this lawsuit which was wrongheaded from the start. This is a bad day for Apple, but a great day for basic freedoms. I'll support Apple as long as they continue making great products, but they can take a flying leap with this lawsuit. I'm thrilled that they lost. :p

I don't know if Apple even intended to win. But they sure did scare the hell out of the leakers. Which means that the case wasn't pointless.

ImAlwaysRight
May 26, 2006, 10:28 PM
Ha-ha, Apple. Too bad for you.

Actually, too bad for us. If Apple didn't choose to fight these stupid lawsuits, they could lower the price of all their Macs by $100 each. :mad:

dr_lha
May 26, 2006, 10:31 PM
Apple is trying to protect its self as a company. They are a business and having someone leak a product before it's released hurts sales.
How exactly? Would people be less likely to buy Apple products if they heard about them a month before they were released? Most companies do preview products before they are released after all, some months and years before they're released.

Apple's culture of announcing products as they do is fun and makes for a cool culture of rumor sites, but I'm hard pressed to imagine how the Asteroid product was in anyway negatively impacted by the leak. Its not like hundreds of 3rd party products came to the market to replace it.

No, the Asteroid leak and subsequent cancellation and lawsuit was all about Steve's bruised ego and subsequent throwing of toys out of the pram.

Rumor sites like MR and ThinkSecret do a lot to feed the Apple geek community. What other company has such devotion amongst its customers, that they hang off of every rumor? Rumors and leaks like this feed the devotion, not hurt it, Apple should realise this and hold back on the lawyers.

asphalt-proof
May 26, 2006, 10:38 PM
Hopefully Apple will have the case filed in criminal court, should make everyone happy -- and put to rest whether or not the material was a trade secret.

If they can't prove their case in civil court, I would imagine they don't have a prayer in criminal court. Rules are much looser regarding evidence, reasonable doubt in civil court than in criminal court.

SiliconAddict
May 26, 2006, 11:20 PM
Good.

I don't know if Apple even intended to win. But they sure did scare the hell out of the leakers. Which means that the case wasn't pointless.


Lawsuits that make your company look like they are picking on the little guy (Even if it is true or not.) is never a "good thing".

theBB
May 26, 2006, 11:41 PM
The appeals court shot that argument down. The rumor sites reported on news, so therefore they get journalistic protection. Doesn't matter if the site's just one dude typing from his/her dorm room or basement.
I agree. In the late 19th century, the local papers in a lot of cities were one man shows and some of them now employ a lot more people. Just because the material does not go through a printing press should not make anybody any less of a journalist.

inkswamp
May 27, 2006, 12:37 AM
I don't know if Apple even intended to win. But they sure did scare the hell out of the leakers. Which means that the case wasn't pointless.

Well, then short of loaning early Macs to Microsoft, that was the single dumbest strategic move Apple has ever made. Once it's been settled legally that sites cannot be held liable for information passed on by those breaking NDAs, there will be absolutely nothing to fear. I can think of nothing that would embolden rumors sites more completely than the knowledge that they are legally in the right in doing so. And that was brought about by Apple themselves.

I suspect that whoever at Apple dreamed up this brilliant move will be promptly "steved." :D

Counterfit
May 27, 2006, 12:45 AM
Excuse me - could you show me the NDA contracts that PowerPage.org, AppleInsider.com and ThinkSecret.com signed with Apple? No? That's right - that's because they didn't. The issue isn't whether NDA contracts are legal/lawful/whatever - the issue is - none of those sites signed any contracts with Apple, thus have no "NDA" obligations with Apple.

The other issue - should the sites be forced to reveal their sources? I'd say "no", but that's my opinion.
From the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (http://nsi.org/Library/Espionage/usta.htm), which almost every state has passed into law in some form: (1) "Improper means" includes theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of duty to maintain secrecy, or espionage through electronic or other means
(2) "Misappropriation " means: (i) acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means; or (ii) disclosure or use of a trade secret of another without express or implied consent by a person who (A) used improper means to acquire knowledge of the trade secret; or (B) at the time of disclosure or use knew or had reason to know that his knowledge of the trade secret was... (II) acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain its secrecy or limit its use; or (III) derived from or through a person who owed a duty to the person seeking relief to maintain its secrecy or limit its use; or (C) before a material change of his position, knew or had reason to know that it was a trade secret ad that knowledge of it had been acquired by accident or mistake.
Emphasis mine.
I think Apple shot themselves in the foot when they didn't investigate internally as much as they could have, and by not disclosing specifically what they had and hadn't done in order to find the leak. (You can find that in the decision, which everyone should read at least part of before posting)

elgruga
May 27, 2006, 12:50 AM
If someone passes on info to a rumors site, it hardly constitutes 'illegal' activity. It may be a breach of a contractual agreement between Apple and an employee, but that is NO concern of the rumors site, nor should it be.
Macrumors, for example, is NOT contracted to do anything for Apple.
Apple is a commercial enterprise whose SOLE purpose is to make profit from customers. If the employees arent playing fair then Apple needs to sort that out in-house, as many others have said already.
Trade secrets? A bloody firewire box? Wow.

This was always about Stevie boy getting angry over sweet FA.
I say grow up Steve, and remember that the rumor sites are a big chunk of FREE advertising, and are frequented by the loyal Apple fans who buy the products. Why should you care if we get info on Apple products?

Talk about a storm in a teacup.......do the rumor sites get their costs awarded against Apple? They should.

elgruga
May 27, 2006, 12:59 AM
"Hopefully Apple will have the case filed in criminal court, should make everyone happy -- and put to rest whether or not the material was a trade secret."

Forget it.
There is no crime. No-one has stolen a trade secret - they have merely reported the possible existence of a new product.
No-one has published diagrams or code or schematics of any kind.

I state right now that Apple will bring out a 8 or 10 gig nano within 12 months.
Sosumi.

mduser63
May 27, 2006, 01:10 AM
I'm glad to hear that Apple lost this case. The case was not about protection of trade secrets, it was about forcing journalists to reveal their sources. The press isn't free if they have to fear reprisal for publishing things, even controversial things. Whoever leaked the information may have broken a contract, but the rumor sites (whom I consider legitimate journalists) did nothing illegal at all, and should be allowed to maintain the secrecy of their sources. This is important in a broader context than just Apple's plans. It sets a precedent for bloggers as real journalists.

eji
May 27, 2006, 02:34 AM
Is it a coincidence that this case should be decided, and shortly thereafter it's revealed that Apple is working on a new Mac for education (http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1775) -- and on AppleInsider, no less (one of the defendants)? Maybe this will inject some new life into Apple rumor sites. :)

AdeFowler
May 27, 2006, 04:41 AM
Apple legal loses a suit! :eek: :confused: :eek:
If Apple Legal had to lose one lawsuit this year, I'd pick this one; there are much bigger cases ahead. Anyway, I've heard this rumour...........:rolleyes:

bigandy
May 27, 2006, 05:18 AM
I would be surprised if it still would be FireWire, since they are killing that off slowly.


why are they killing it off? what a bad move.

the ipod moved away because it doesn't need firewire.

firewire is needed for video stuff - usb is awful for that and hardly any devices support that for that reason.

'pro' hard drives need firewire for decent transfer rates, and i don't see their market dying.

bigandy
May 27, 2006, 05:20 AM
They already released the Asteriod. It was called the Mac Mini.

so you don't know what asteroid was then?

Sun Baked
May 27, 2006, 05:34 AM
Forget it.
There is no crime. No-one has stolen a trade secret - they have merely reported the possible existence of a new product.
No-one has published diagrams or code or schematics of any kind.

I state right now that Apple will bring out a 8 or 10 gig nano within 12 months.
Sosumi.Ask Jose Lopez, if the leaking of inane Apple crap can land you in a California jail cell.

But alas, Apple doesn't know the identity of the John Doe in this case ... yet.

EricBrian
May 27, 2006, 06:50 AM
I don't know if Apple even intended to win. But they sure did scare the hell out of the leakers. Which means that the case wasn't pointless.

Well, if it was to scare them, the scare is now over.

Glad Apple lost this case.

Stella
May 27, 2006, 07:00 AM
This is total bollocks. Apple aren't allowed to protect their trade secrets?!!!

Utter crap.

EricBrian
May 27, 2006, 07:28 AM
This is total bollocks. Apple aren't allowed to protect their trade secrets?!!!

Utter crap.

Of course they are allowed to protect their trade secrets. Apple needs to go after those who reveal them.

But what does that have to do with this case? In this case, Apple tried to step all over free speech.

Even so, there was no trade secret revealed.

jragosta
May 27, 2006, 08:05 AM
I think that you're missing the point of this lawsuit/ruling. It is not saying that NDAs should not be honored and those who break them not liable for thier actions. In this case, the person being sued is not the person under contract with apple. This case is about whether the "reporter" who recieves the information is responsible just as much as the person who broke thier NDA. I dont know the law in this area very well, but it seems to be a big grey area.


This case just destroyed trade secret protection in the entire country. Anyone who violates a trade secret can now publish it in a blog and claim that they're protected by the First Amendment and the violated party can't do a thing to stop them.

Trade secret protection is over. And that's a very bad thing - many companies (like mine) rely heavily on trade secrets and NDAs to protect their investment in new technologies.

jragosta
May 27, 2006, 08:06 AM
Of course they are allowed to protect their trade secrets. Apple needs to go after those who reveal them.

But what does that have to do with this case? In this case, Apple tried to step all over free speech.

Even so, there was no trade secret revealed.

Nonsense. Apple can no longer go after the people who reveal trade secrets. All they have to to is publish a blog (even a blog on unrelated issues) and they can claim that they're a journalist and protected under the First Amendment.

And there most certainly was a trade secret involved. The fact that Apple later decided not to release the product doesn't change that.

jragosta
May 27, 2006, 08:10 AM
How exactly? Would people be less likely to buy Apple products if they heard about them a month before they were released? Most companies do preview products before they are released after all, some months and years before they're released.


Look up the history of Commodore.

Release of trade secret information can cost a company huge amounts of money.

jragosta
May 27, 2006, 08:13 AM
Of course they are allowed to protect their trade secrets. Apple needs to go after those who reveal them.

But what does that have to do with this case? In this case, Apple tried to step all over free speech.

Even so, there was no trade secret revealed.


Baloney. The development of new products is most certainly a trade secret. Pretending that it's not is absurd.

And under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, knowingly publishing information which you know or reasonably should know is a trade secret is illegal and can be punished.

The rumors sites most certainly knew that Apple's future development plans are trade secrets and they therefore violated the UTSA.

AidenShaw
May 27, 2006, 08:40 AM
'pro' hard drives need firewire for decent transfer rates, and i don't see their market dying.
Actually, real "pro" drives are using 1 Gbps iSCSI and 2.5 Gbps eSATA links.

400 Mbps is fast enough for hobbyists....

Mal
May 27, 2006, 08:46 AM
Nonsense. Apple can no longer go after the people who reveal trade secrets. All they have to to is publish a blog (even a blog on unrelated issues) and they can claim that they're a journalist and protected under the First Amendment.

And there most certainly was a trade secret involved. The fact that Apple later decided not to release the product doesn't change that.

You're missing the point. The person who initiates the leak has no protection from the First Amendment because they signed an NDA. They will still be prosecuted, provided Apple can figure out who it is (which, incidentally, if they publish a blog, will be far easier). Now, I agree with the ruling mostly, though if the rumor sites knew that their source was breaking an NDA, they should have been found guilty. I suppose the judge determined that was not the case.

jW

dr_lha
May 27, 2006, 09:51 AM
Look up the history of Commodore.

Release of trade secret information can cost a company huge amounts of money.
This case is hardly comparable to what happened to Commodore in the early 80s. Plus Commodore was run by morons who drove the company into the ground, despite having previously had the biggest selling computer in the world.

iAlan
May 27, 2006, 11:12 AM
Let's say Apple are in the late stages of planning and development to launch a new computer, and this computer would seal the fate of the company one-way or the other. You could argue this for the Intel switch for example. If this information is 'leaked' to a rumor site then picked up by the main stream media - which rumors are now we have seen - and the stock price of Apple or any company involved with the new product (say Intel) could be impacted.

Let's say i was involve in the switch to Intel and had stock in Intel, if I leaked the switch i could see an immediate financial return due to this leak. Sure this is hard to prove, but Martha Stewart went away for something no so dissimilar.

We really don't know the motivation for those who leak info as it is done annonomously so there is no 'credit' or 'status' for leaking said info.

TheAnswer
May 27, 2006, 11:14 AM
so you don't know what asteroid was then?

I know what it was supposedly rumored to be. I've seen the mockup on Appleinsider. I know according to the AI article that a rumored production run was to take place between Dec 04 and Jan 05.

I know the Mac Mini was introduced in Jan 05 and that it's May 06 now and still no "Asteroid" firewire breakout box.

Until I see an Apple branded breakout box, I'll continue to believe that (a) The "Asteroid" was a fake product designed to pinpoint leaks inside Apple or (b) The "Asteroid" was always the Mac Mini.

dwighteb
May 27, 2006, 11:30 AM
From the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (http://nsi.org/Library/Espionage/usta.htm), which almost every state has passed into law in some form:
Emphasis mine.
I think Apple shot themselves in the foot when they didn't investigate internally as much as they could have, and by not disclosing specifically what they had and hadn't done in order to find the leak. (You can find that in the decision, which everyone should read at least part of before posting)
Thanks - oh, and it's much more fun to troll about w/o RTFA. Cheers!

Gelfin
May 27, 2006, 12:49 PM
This case just destroyed trade secret protection in the entire country. Anyone who violates a trade secret can now publish it in a blog and claim that they're protected by the First Amendment and the violated party can't do a thing to stop them.

You perhaps need to take a few deep breaths into a paper bag or something. This means or implies nothing of the sort.

If I sign an NDA with you and subsequently publish the information to a blog, you may sue me into the ground for breach of contract.

If I hand the information to my sister and have her post the information to her blog, such that it's obvious who leaked it, then you may likewise sue me.

If I anonymously hand the information to a blogger who doesn't know me personally, but after a proper internal investigation you are able to uncover my identity, then you may likewise sue me.

If I anonymously hand the information to a reporter from the Washington Post, but after a proper internal investigation you are able to uncover my identity, then you may likewise sue me.

As a part of your investigation, you may not lean on the Post reporter to divulge my identity (assuming he or she knows it). You may not use the courts to compel such disclosure.

All of the above was true prior to this ruling, and it is all true now. Apple would have known better than to subpoena the Washington Post in this hypothetical example, because Apple knows the Post has lawyers who understand journalistic rights. They were gambling that they could sandbag the bloggers into giving up names without risking the judge's decision (which was very likely to go the way it did).

The only difference in the law is that you may substitute "blogger" for "Post reporter" in the final point above. It's not even really a "difference" in the law so much as a previously untested, but perfectly reasonable, legal theory that has now been tested and validated. The court cannot Constitutionally draw a distinction between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" journalism, if such a distinction can actually be said to exist.

You will note that at no time did Apple sue any person at a rumor site for a violation of the UTSA. Perhaps some culpability could be proved under the legal definition of "misappropriation," but this legal question was never raised. In all likelihood Apple's lawyers would have assessed the cost of calculating and proving damages on that claim (a necessary component of USTA litigation) against the depth of the rumor sites' pockets and declined to bother. For that matter, they might have gotten to court and found that Apple's cultural preference for prerelease product secrecy does not attain the level of a trade secret under the USTA, given the fact that a great many prerelease products, both within Apple and without, are announced to great fanfare months or even years before their release with no consistent quantifiable impact on their financial success. In the Asteroid case, this product would certainly not have been the first such product on the market, so it might have been extremely difficult to prove that Apple suffered any financial harm at all by the general knowledge that they were developing such a product, described in such general terms.

I would suggest that Apple never had any interest in litigating the USTA against anyone. They wanted to leverage the USTA in order to compel disclosure of the Apple employee who leaked the information, who they would in turn terminate for cause rather than pursue in court. The court quite rightly ruled that this was a dodgy use of court authority in an attempt to shortcut a difficult and unpleasant internal investigation.

On the other hand, if one of Apple's competitors had come up with a competing product that was superficially similar to "Asteroid" as described, then Apple might have pursued USTA litigation against that competitor, citing their very public attempt to identify the source of the leaks as evidence that the information, even if acquired from a public website, was misappropriated insofar as the competitor knew it had been divulged to them through illicit means. They may or may not have succeeded with this tack.

IANAL, but one thing I do know about the law is that its application is far more complex and subtle than most people give it credit for.

TheLost
May 27, 2006, 03:37 PM
Did the apple store get hacked? It has an picture on it saying "I support Blogger's Rights, Join EFF now!"

jragosta
May 27, 2006, 05:08 PM
This case is hardly comparable to what happened to Commodore in the early 80s. Plus Commodore was run by morons who drove the company into the ground, despite having previously had the biggest selling computer in the world.


No, THIS case isn't related to Commodore. But I was replying to someone who said it doesn't hurt for someone to release information about unreleased products. The dissemination of unreleased products can be very, very damaging to a company - as Commodore showed.

jragosta
May 27, 2006, 05:10 PM
You perhaps need to take a few deep breaths into a paper bag or something. This means or implies nothing of the sort.

If I sign an NDA with you and subsequently publish the information to a blog, you may sue me into the ground for breach of contract.

If I hand the information to my sister and have her post the information to her blog, such that it's obvious who leaked it, then you may likewise sue me.

If I anonymously hand the information to a blogger who doesn't know me personally, but after a proper internal investigation you are able to uncover my identity, then you may likewise sue me.

If I anonymously hand the information to a reporter from the Washington Post, but after a proper internal investigation you are able to uncover my identity, then you may likewise sue me.

As a part of your investigation, you may not lean on the Post reporter to divulge my identity (assuming he or she knows it). You may not use the courts to compel such disclosure.

All of the above was true prior to this ruling, and it is all true now. Apple would have known better than to subpoena the Washington Post in this hypothetical example, because Apple knows the Post has lawyers who understand journalistic rights. They were gambling that they could sandbag the bloggers into giving up names without risking the judge's decision (which was very likely to go the way it did).

The only difference in the law is that you may substitute "blogger" for "Post reporter" in the final point above. It's not even really a "difference" in the law so much as a previously untested, but perfectly reasonable, legal theory that has now been tested and validated. The court cannot Constitutionally draw a distinction between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" journalism, if such a distinction can actually be said to exist.

You will note that at no time did Apple sue any person at a rumor site for a violation of the UTSA. Perhaps some culpability could be proved under the legal definition of "misappropriation," but this legal question was never raised. In all likelihood Apple's lawyers would have assessed the cost of calculating and proving damages on that claim (a necessary component of USTA litigation) against the depth of the rumor sites' pockets and declined to bother. For that matter, they might have gotten to court and found that Apple's cultural preference for prerelease product secrecy does not attain the level of a trade secret under the USTA, given the fact that a great many prerelease products, both within Apple and without, are announced to great fanfare months or even years before their release with no consistent quantifiable impact on their financial success. In the Asteroid case, this product would certainly not have been the first such product on the market, so it might have been extremely difficult to prove that Apple suffered any financial harm at all by the general knowledge that they were developing such a product, described in such general terms.

I would suggest that Apple never had any interest in litigating the USTA against anyone. They wanted to leverage the USTA in order to compel disclosure of the Apple employee who leaked the information, who they would in turn terminate for cause rather than pursue in court. The court quite rightly ruled that this was a dodgy use of court authority in an attempt to shortcut a difficult and unpleasant internal investigation.

On the other hand, if one of Apple's competitors had come up with a competing product that was superficially similar to "Asteroid" as described, then Apple might have pursued USTA litigation against that competitor, citing their very public attempt to identify the source of the leaks as evidence that the information, even if acquired from a public website, was misappropriated insofar as the competitor knew it had been divulged to them through illicit means. They may or may not have succeeded with this tack.

IANAL, but one thing I do know about the law is that its application is far more complex and subtle than most people give it credit for.

You used a lot of words to prove that you didn't read what I said.

All the person who publishes the information has to do is claim that they're a 'journalist' and they're off scot-free. So someone could publish it anonymously and get away with it (since the person whose trade secret was stolen no longer has any ability to find out who published it). Or they could give it to a rumor site and they're off scot-free (since the rumor site doesn't have to tell who gave them the information).

pizzach
May 27, 2006, 08:18 PM
Good.




Lawsuits that make your company look like they are picking on the little guy (Even if it is true or not.) is never a "good thing".


Okay mister negative not looking for the good in things :). You guys are thinking in terms of Apple. I am thinking on the terms of the likely engineer who violated an NDA of some kind. As a student of engineering I have heard the horror stories of people whistleblowing/violating nda's.... godda love school.

Doctor Q
May 27, 2006, 08:49 PM
Okay mister negative not looking for the good in things :). You guys are thinking in terms of Apple. I am thinking on the terms of the likely engineer who violated an NDA of some kind. As a student of engineering I have heard the horror stories of people whistleblowing/violating nda's.... godda love school.Whistleblowing? Maybe a heroic employee knew that Asteroid was an awful product (environmentally unsafe?) and risked his or her career by releasing the leak to purposely cause the news to come out early, thereby making Apple cancel the project before it was too late!

macaddicted
May 27, 2006, 11:19 PM
Lets face it, if someone working at the National Enquirer is a reporter then how could someone who is reporting news on the web not be?

Counterfit
May 28, 2006, 01:31 AM
lots of stuff that I generally agree with, but really doesn't need to be in the thread for a third time
Glad to see someone else knows enough to read up on issues before posting.

dwsolberg
May 28, 2006, 11:16 AM
Of course, NDA's should be enforced. It's a shame that we need to protect "journalists" that knowingly divulge company secrets. Here's the catch, though, we DO need to protect those people. This is because, in the long run, the investigative drive for a free flow of information helps our democracy and our economy. Not only does it uncover corrupt politicans and corrupt business people, it also helps keep others honest. In an era where information is becoming increasing powerful, it is even more necessary to ensure that this power is not concentrated in a few hands. This allows our economy to blossom as creative individuals use this information to create companiues that in turn drive our economy.

What does all this have to do with Apple's business? Not much, but laws are not perfect. They must properly deal with the most important and the most numerous cases, and still be generally applicable to everyone. If we made exceptions for every case, we'd have capricious laws applied even more unevenly. So this means we must suffer a little with minor company leaks in order to protect freedom of speech, which is so important for both our democracy and our economy. Of course, it's infinitely more complicated than this simple explanation, but generally I think the United States proves the value of these concepts by its wealth and relatively benign power. (Poorly thought out wars are horrible, but perfection is not a human characteristic.)

markie
May 29, 2006, 12:14 AM
"But what if it was something major that was leaked months in advance like the switch from PowerPC chips to INTEL. Having that information released early would have been a huge blow to Apple."

Uh, it WAS. It was leaked and rumored years in advance yet nobody listened (but it turned out it was true ALL along. EVERY version of OS X ever has been x86/PowerPC internally! Apple was ready to switch on a moment's notice)!!!

Sorry, but huge things like that don't hurt Apple because nobody believes them when they're leaked ahead :)

generik
May 29, 2006, 07:11 AM
Hopefully Apple will have the case filed in criminal court, should make everyone happy -- and put to rest whether or not the material was a trade secret.

You insane?

Since when is a breach of contract (at best) a felony?

Sun Baked
May 29, 2006, 08:09 AM
You insane?

Since when is a breach of contract (at best) a felony?Since they updated the Protection of Trade Secrects act.

In case you forget, the information release here and on MacBidouille, got someone arrested.

Never found out what happened to the dude though....Jose Lopez -- who was contracted by Apple through the Volt Services Group -- and an unnamed person referred to as Doe 1 are named in the civil complaint filed by Apple this morning. Lopez worked for Apple as a contractor last summer when schematic drawings and other details about Apple's Power Mac G4 were released on the Internet.

"Apple has filed a civil complaint against Jose Lopez, previously employed by Apple as a contractor, who we believe stole Apple's trade secrets by posting schematic drawings, images and engineering details of an unannounced Apple product on the Internet," an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to MacCentral today. "Innovation is in Apple's DNA, so the protection of trade secrets is crucial to our success. Our policy is to take legal actions where necessary to preserve the confidentiality of our intellectual property."...

[crop]

...The criminal case against Lopez, filed by the District Attorney says that the "defendant did knowingly and willfully, and with the intent to appropriate a trade secret to his own use and the use of another, steal, take and carry away and use without authorization a trade secret, to wit: schematic drawings and engineering details of the Power Mac G4, belonging to Apple Computer Inc."...

gnasher729
May 29, 2006, 04:38 PM
This case just destroyed trade secret protection in the entire country. Anyone who violates a trade secret can now publish it in a blog and claim that they're protected by the First Amendment and the violated party can't do a thing to stop them.

Trade secret protection is over. And that's a very bad thing - many companies (like mine) rely heavily on trade secrets and NDAs to protect their investment in new technologies.

Not at all. This court case was not about a blogger disclosing trade secrets, it was about a blogger refusing to name those who leaked the trade secret. Apple didn't sue for violation of a trade secret, the sued to get the names.

sccaldwell
May 30, 2006, 12:13 PM
This is very good news. Apple have a tendency to go overboard sometimes. A firewire breakout box? Who gives a ####? It's clear that they sued because they wanted sites like this one to go down.

************. It's clear that Apple sued because (a) they get a lot of press from making "surprise" announcements and having leaks let the air out of their balloon, (b) keeping products secret until released gives them (and other innovative companies) a competitive advantage that is VERY valuable, and (c) things marked "internal use only," "trade secret", etc are marked that way for a reason.

They're protecting their products and intellectual property, as they should. As an Apple stockholder, I'm glad to see them do it, and sorry to see them lose this lawsuit.

As for the "First Amendment" protection, let's be honest, folks....while I read MacRumors regularly, and like getting the "inside scoop" from them, this is hardly a "news" site and no one involved in this (or other similar sites) should be considered "journalists". No disrespect intended...it's just not "journalism." Most of the "articles" posted here are simply rumors and speculation posted verbatim from unconfirmed sources. It's rumors....hence "MacRUMORS.com", and therefore shouldn't get First Amendment protection.

Should the National Enquirer or the Star get First Amendment protection for the rumors, etc that they post? I certainly don't think they should (though I don't know if they do or not), but at least they do write articles and stories, rather than posting snippets of rumored information. I think MacRumors has a higher accuracy than The Enquirer or Star, though... ;-)

dwsolberg
May 30, 2006, 03:36 PM
The Star does get First Amendment rights, just like everybody else. Our schools need to teach understanding of WHY we have these rights so that everyone understands that they help a LOT more than they hurt.

Compare the free speech idea to junk food. If research had not proved that it hurts your body, you might never know. Daily comsumption of junk food seems to do little harm, but the cumulative effect takes years off people's lives and contributes to many, many diseases such as diabetes and cancer. It's the same way with the First Amendment. We don't notice the effects of it until the cumulative benefits (or damage) creates great countries such as the United States or oppressed countries such as the former Iraq. The average truly democratic country with a free press is in much better shape than the average country without a democracy and a free press. Yet it's harder to see on the surface why this is the case.

dr_lha
May 30, 2006, 03:56 PM
No, THIS case isn't related to Commodore. But I was replying to someone who said it doesn't hurt for someone to release information about unreleased products. The dissemination of unreleased products can be very, very damaging to a company - as Commodore showed.
In Commodore's case it was former employees going to a rival company (Atari), not leaking the details of a possible product to a website. Saying "Apple are making a firewire breakout box" is a lot different to "I know how to make one because I was on the design team, do you want me to design one for you?", which is basically what happened to Commodore.