CNET are reporting that police in Silicon Valley are investigating a case relating to what they call a lost Apple iPhone 4G prototype, purchased by a gadget blog!
Apparently Apple have spoken with Silicon Valley police, and their computer crime task force is looking into whether or not there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges.
It seems that Apple are curious whether or not the legal angle where someone finding something, and then selling it, is grounds enough to bring criminal charges against those involved in the iPhone 4G leak. To do that they need the police to decide there is a criminal case to answer and then get involved.
If the police do so this could then lead to knock on charges being brought against Gizmodo. Who could then be guilty by association with the first crime, as they would be the receiver of “lost” goods in an illegal sale. Gizmodo are more than likely Apple’s key target in all of this.
Under a California law dating back to 1872, any person who finds lost property and knows who the owner is likely to be but “appropriates such property to his own use” is guilty of theft. That would be the “iPhone finder”. If the value of the property exceeds $400, more serious charges of grand theft can be filed.
In addition, a second state law says that any person who knowingly receives property that has been obtained illegally can be imprisoned for up to one year. It’s this second law that could threaten Gizmodo’s position, and some of their staff.
For Apple this is all about protecting Trade Secrets. Both present and future.
“If these trade secrets are revealed, competitors can anticipate and counter Apple’s business strategy, and Apple loses control over the timing and publicity for its product launches,” Apple wrote in a brief.
If this comes to trial in any way, and that is a big if, expect Gizmodo to throw up all kinds of legal defences related to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press.
Do you think Gizmodo acted correctly in all of this? Let us know in the comments