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Apple stops legal attack on alleged secrets leaker

Worker Bee agrees to buzz off

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Apple has settled its legal action against an ex-staffer who allegedly leaked company secrets.

Actually, it withdrew its action some time ago, but the papers have only recently been filed with the court and made public, as CNET has just spotted.

In return for dropping the case, ex-Apple employee Juan Gutierrez, better known by his online alias, Worker Bee, agreed to hand over any Apple secrets still in his possession and to keep quiet about anything he may have learned about the company while an employee.

Gutierrez seems to have tacitly admitted that he did indeed leak Apple confidential information, in violation of a non-disclosure agreement he signed in October 1999. Said his lawyer: "[Gutierrez] exercised some non-maliced [sic], bad judgement. I think it was kind of youthful enthusiasm and exuberance."

In other words, he did it but, didn't mean any harm.

Apple may agree with him now, but it was pretty pissed off early last August when it launched the case against Gutierrez. At the time, it even went as far as issuing a subpoena against Yahoo! to demand the portal hand over any information it had that might identify the source of the leaks.

Worker Bee had been posting details of upcoming Apple products, most notably the Cube, the dual-CPU Power Mac G4 and the company's optical mouse, on Yahoo!'s GeoCities bulletin board. Later in the month, Apple explicitly connected Gutierrez with Worker Bee's posts.

Interestingly, Apple's case also named 24 other anonymous leakers. It's not known whether the company ever identified any of those. If it did, it certainly didn't make as much of a fuss over them as it did with Gutierrez.

The case against Gutierrez followed a number of attacks made by Apple's lawyers on Mac-oriented Web sites for publishing allegedly confidential company information. Only last month, Think Secret was forced to remove information regarding Mac OS X 10.1 by Apple's legal team. ®

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