Apple suing over Web Leak of Products
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL - news) is suing anonymous people who leaked details about new products by posting information on the Internet, court documents showed on Friday.
Apple's complaint, filed with the Santa Clara County California Superior Court, comes only weeks ahead of the Macworld conference in San Francisco, the annual show where CEO Steve Jobs (news - web sites) unveils the latest Apple products.
Apple is notoriously secretive about its product plans, while many fan sites routinely discuss what may be in store, including posting pictures of real products and hoaxes.
The complaint alleges that "an unidentified individual, acting alone or in concert with others, has recently misappropriated and disseminated through Web sites confidential information about an unreleased Apple product."
Apple said in the seven-page civil complaint, filed on Dec. 13, that it did not know the "true names or capacities, whether individual, associate, corporate or otherwise," of the defendants. Once they have been discovered, the Cupertino, California-based company said it would amend the complaint.
It was not the first time Apple has gone after fanatics who have posted information about upcoming products on the Internet.
In December 2002, Apple sued a former contractor who allegedly posted drawings, images and engineering details of the company's PowerMac G4 computer in July of that year, several weeks before the product was officially unveiled.
"Apple has filed a civil complaint against unnamed individuals who we believe stole our trade secrets and posted detailed information about an unannounced Apple product on the Internet," the company said in a statement provided to Reuters. "Apple's DNA is innovation and the protection of our trade secrets is crucial to our success."
Mac rumor Web sites are at their busiest ahead of the annual Macworld conventions, which are highly anticipated by the Mac faithful for product introductions and Jobs' keynote.
In recent weeks, the Web sites have been buzzing with speculation that Apple will introduce a smaller, cheaper version of its market-leading iPod digital music player that uses flash memory, rather than the hard disk drives of the standard iPods.
Flash memory chips retain data stored on them even when electrical current is shut off.
Financial analysts Andy Neff of Bear Stearns and Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. have also published notes in recent weeks mentioning flash iPods.
"To succeed, Apple must develop innovative products and bring those products to market in advance of its competitors," the company said in its complaint. "If Apple competitors were aware of Apple's future production information, those competitors could benefit economically from that knowledge by directing their product development or marketing to frustrate Apple's plans."