Legality of Gizmodo's Next-Generation iPhone Acquisition Examined

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A DailyFinance article discussing the legality of Gizmodo's acquisition of a next-generation iPhone left in a bar last month has been receiving a bit of attention today. The report outlines the series of events that led to Gizmodo receiving the device and examines whether its possession of the iPhone constituted a violation worthy of either criminal charges of possession of stolen property or civil charges regarding misappropriation of trade secrets.
At heart is the question of whether the person who found the phone made "reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him," as required by the California penal code.
The report notes that while Gizmodo claims that the iPhone's finder apparently "asked around" at the bar on the night the device was left behind and attempted to call several Apple support numbers the following day to no avail, the person failed to take several basic steps to reunite the device with its owner.
What he never did, however, was notify anyone who worked at the bar, according to its owner, Volcker Staudt. That would have been the simplest way to get the phone back to the Apple employee who lost it, who "called constantly trying to retrieve it" in the days afterward, recalls Volcker. "The guy was pretty hectic about it."

Nor did the finder report it to the Redwood City Police Department, says Sgt. Dan Mulholland.
The question becomes whether Gizmodo, which paid $5,000 for the device, had an obligation to verify whether the seller was in legal possession of the device. Nick Denton of Gawker Media, Gizmodo's parent company, claims that the authenticity of the device was in question until they had purchased and disassembled it, and notes that they intended to return the device to Apple if it was verified to be an Apple product.

It remains to be seen whether Apple will take any further action beyond requesting the return of the device, whether it be in the form of legal action or other means such as restriction of invitations to Apple media events. Apple has remained silent on the issue despite multiple media requests from a number of sources, and company officials were not questioned about it by analysts during the Q&A portion of yesterday's earnings conference call.

Article Link: Legality of Gizmodo's Next-Generation iPhone Acquisition Examined
 

RollTide

macrumors 6502
Mar 9, 2006
448
0
Alabama
Gizmodo paid 5k for a device that "may" have been an apple device? They knew it was all along I assure you!
 

nwcs

macrumors 68000
Sep 21, 2009
1,822
2,255
Tennessee
I don't expect the government to take criminal action but I expect Apple to take civil action. Our legal system allows for that and a jury of 12 people to decide the outcome.
 

TitoC

macrumors 6502
Jun 15, 2007
311
20
I guess it looks like a case of "post images, let's make a big deal of what we got, hey look at me ma, no hands" ask questions later. Oops!
 

Robert M.

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2010
761
163
Please Apple!! Sink the whole Gawker Network!! :mad:

Because they were dead wrong! The guy should have never removed the phone from the bar! Like the article said, you give it to the bartender... duh!! :rolleyes:

In my eyes, it's like buying stolen goods.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,651
14,209
Central U.S.
I've always heard that Steve was a big Gizmodo fan. He probably realizes that he would have done the same thing if he were in their shoes, and at this point, a lawsuit would simply anger the masses and make Apple look bad. Giz is a rather large pro-Apple site, and to tick off their millions of readers doesn't seem like the best idea. Especially since a lot of them are the early adopter type (or in correct marketing speak, "innovators"). Oh, I forgot, Apple loves ticking off that group! Yeah, expect a lawsuit!!
 

WalterNeff

macrumors regular
Jan 26, 2010
115
20
Doesn't matter if it was Apple's device

"Nick Denton of Gawker Media, Gizmodo's parent company, claims that the authenticity of the device was in question until they had purchased and disassembled it, and notes that they intended to return the device to Apple if it was verified to be an Apple product."

I offer to sell you anything that resembles a cell phone for $5000—even a suspected Japanese or Chinese iPhone knockoff—you can bet that it's not my cell to sell. Gizmodo's defense makes no sense.
 

GregorBehr

macrumors member
Jan 27, 2008
98
1
Apple will remain silent until Steve shows us exactly what the next gen phone will be... and then he'll stand there holding the shiny source of so much desire and then he'll say, "oh, and one more thing... Gizmodo, my lawyers would like to speak to you outside in the hallway" :p
 

4np

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2005
963
0
The Netherlands
I wonder if Engadget will still be on Apple's guest list. I wouldn't be surprised if they will be never again be invited to Apple media events... :)

I'm 100% convinced that Gizmodo will never be invited to an Apple media event again.
looks like I'm not the only one ;)
 

Scooterman1

macrumors 6502a
May 15, 2008
939
12
Houston, Tx
How on earth does this article state that the iPhone was stolen? I thought it was lost, the finder asked around in the bar, and then sold it to Gizmodo.
Lost doesn't necessarily equate to stealing. But yes, when Gizmodo pays $5000 for something that they don't know is authentic? And a seller contacts them to sell it, I think the finder AND Gizmodo were pretty sure of what it was. And was the Video made explaining it was the new iPhone BEFORE it was disassembled?
 

MarlboroLite

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2007
579
5
the 13 colonies
If this really truly was total happenstance...and assuming it was not a leak...I think Apple would be better served by doing nothing. The chatter will die down eventually if that is what they want. Going all legal Rambo on Gizmodo will only give Gizmodo more publicity, which they of course want.

At this point they should let it go and let the story die down.
 

glitch44

macrumors 65816
Feb 28, 2006
1,092
67
Not only did he not call the bar or the police, but the thief (supposedly) logged into the Facebook app and saw the Apple engineer's name. He was 20 miles from the Apple campus and knew the owner's name but couldn't be bothered to call or drop it off in an envelope? I feel that ruins the claim he/she did their due diligence to return it to the owner.
 

UnseenLlama

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2007
557
12
Indianapolis, IN
Gizmodo revealing the Apple employee who lost the phone, putting him through even more shame, was uncalled for, at least in my opinion.

I'm hoping one day to go to Gizmodo's site with a big "Site is closed" picture. That would be justice for me.
 

TheCheapGeek

macrumors 6502
Jul 10, 2008
468
2
I agree, it is buying stolen goods. They obviously knew that it was stolen and they bought it anyway. I agree they will never have any apple event invites or apple review units.
 

macUser2007

macrumors 65832
May 30, 2007
1,504
200
It's a Marketing Plant, Stupid!

And I guess it works.....

They don't want you looking at the new Androids coming out.

"Keep your eye on the next iPhone....", "Keep your eye on the next iPhone....", "Keep your eye on the next iPhone...."
 

7even

macrumors 6502a
Jan 11, 2008
978
16
Not only did he not call the bar or the police, but the thief (supposedly) logged into the Facebook app and saw the Apple engineer's name. He was 20 miles from the Apple campus and knew the owner's name but couldn't be bothered to call or drop it off in an envelope? I feel that ruins the claim he/she did their due diligence to return it to the owner.
No kidding. You find out who lost it, you return it to them... easy as that :rolleyes: