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Apple shot first, asked question later, say sued sites

Trigger-happy lawyers

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Apple sent its lawyers after two amateur-run Mac news sites without conducting a serious internal company investigation first to demand who leaked trade secrets, court documents show. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which bid to have the documents unsealed, claims it deals a crucial blow to Apple's attempt to silence the webstes.

Apple is suing AppleInsider and O'Grady's PowerPage, claiming that they published leaked product information on 'Asteroid', an audio hardware interface. It's seeking to compel the websites to identify unknown parties, 'John Does', who provided the information. Apple has yet to sue a professional news organisation for publishing similar scoops.

Apple's legal eagles failed to take depositions or subpoena its own employees, and didn't examine telephone records or individuals' computers. It made only a cursory examination of a single email server. The testimony was provided by Robin Zonic and Al Ortiz, senior manager of investigations, and senior investigator in the corporate security department at Apple, back in February. Apple had attempted to keep the details of its non-investigation under seal.

Courts are sympathetic to trade secrets cases, but may be wary of the power of subpoena, when deployed to threaten first amendment rights.

Bootnote

The unsealed document refers to Apple's John Doe suits against AppleInsider and O'Grady's PowerPage - and not to its litigation against Think Secret as an earlier draft of this story suggested. Apple is seeking damages from Think Secret.

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