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Apple gets heavy with third Mac Web site

This time it's MacInTouch's turn to 'cease and desist'

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Apple's highly active legal department has targeted yet another Mac Web site, the venerable MacInTouch, for publishing what the company effectively claims are illegally obtained trade secrets.

A couple of days ago, MacInTouch published a reader's letter claiming to state what Apple will announce at MacWorld Expo in New York later this week. And what Web site or magazine would do otherwise?

However, this weekend Apple's legal department demanded that the site pull the letter. It claimed that the reader had broken a non-disclosure agreement, and that, in turn, the site was violating the company's trade secret rights.

Apple also threatened MacInTouch's ISP in order to get the story removed.

The move against MacInTouch follows similar action against other Mac Web sites, specifically MacOS Rumors and AppleInsider. They were asked to remove stories relating to upcoming Apple product announcements, again because of alleged trade secret violations. Both case are believed to relate to the Apple Mac 'Cube', but may also take in a rumoured multiprocessor machine. The MacInTouch reader's letter discussed both products.

Clearly all three site have hit the nail on the head. Ironically, MacOS Rumors' claim to be the target of Apple legal threats was widely dismissed as a publicity stunt by some of the online Mac community's more vocal members.

MacInTouch has removed the reader's letter, "to avoid further costs of legal representation", according to the site's legal counsel - which is, of course, why Apple (or any other company, for that matter; Apple isn't unique here) can get away with such bullying tactics. MacOS Rumors also pulled its Cube stories. Only AppleInsider has yet to remove stories relating to the Cube, to the 'Mystic' multiprocessor Mac or any other item discussing future Mac products.

MacInTouch's lawyer disputes that the items in the letter are Apple trade secrets, that it's not responsible for a third-party's infringement of an NDA and, in any case, that it owes nothing to Apple that forces it to not print items received in good faith from readers - which it can do so under free-speech protection of the US Constitution.

Of course, what Apple is really interested in is finding the mole, even though it knows no journalist (at least, no journalist worth his or her salt) will reveal sources' identity - assuming, in these days of anonymous email, they even know what that identity is.

The loser here is Apple, which isn't exactly winning friends and influencing people by coming over all heavy handed. Attempting to protect its (alleged) trade secrets it may be, but by taking this bellicose approach, the company not only helps to alienate the online Mac community and, worse, gives credence to rumours it would otherwise simply refuse to comment upon. Had Apple ignored AppleInsider and MacInTouch, its users would have ignored MacOS Rumors. ®

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Related Link

Apple's 'cease and desist' email and MacInTouch's response

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