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Apple lawyers issue cease-and-desist letter over $100K tablet 'bounty'

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 
A Web site offering up to $100,000 for details on Apple's forthcoming tablet has been asked by the Cupertino, Calif., company's lawyers to stop, alleging the "bounty" is in violation of California laws protecting trade secrets.

Attorney Michael C. Spillner, with Apple's law firm Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe sent a letter to Valleywag Wednesday evening demanding that the online publication discontinue its offer by 6 p.m. Pacific Time Thursday.

"While Apple appreciates vibrant public commentary about its products, we believe you and your company have cross the line by offering a bounty for the theft of Apple's trade secrets," the letter to Gabriel Snyder, editor in chief, reads. "Such an offer is illegal and Apple insists that you immediately discontinue the Scavenger Hunt."

Valleywag responded by sarcastically declaring Apple the winner of its "contest," by providing the "most concrete proof" of the tablet's existence yet through its cease-and-desist letter. But the publication said its request for information remains open.

"If you've found proof that the Apple Tablet exists and can share it with us, we're still offering prizes," editor Gabriel Snyder wrote. "Apple, of course, has plenty of good lawyers like Michael Spillner, so we reiterate our advice 'to stay within the bounds of the law.' And also: use anonymous email addresses! We can't tell Apple who you are if we don't know who you are."

On Wednesday, the publication gained publicity through its $100,000 "scavenger hunt." The publication said it would pay $10,000 for pictures of Apple's long-rumored tablet, $20,000 for a video of it in action, $50,000 for pictures or video of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs holding one, and $100,000 to let the Web site use the tablet for one hour.

With Apple rumored to hold an event in less than two weeks to unveil new products, speculation has been rampant that the tablet will see a public debut before the end of January. Reports have said Apple has rented the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Sources also told The Wall Street Journal that the long-awaited touchscreen device would likely ship in March.

But how the device works, or even exactly what it is, remains a matter of debate. General consensus suggests the tablet will be akin to a jumbo iPod touch, with a screen size between 10 inches and 11 inches. It will act as a multimedia, multi-function device allowing users to watch movies, play games, surf the Internet, and read electronic books and newspapers.

The tablet's alleged role as an e-reader picked up steam last fall when multiple rumors surfaced that Apple had contacted print publications to make their content available on a forthcoming device. While some have speculated that the device will be a "Kindle killer", it is widely believed Apple's new hardware will do much more than offer books and newspapers.

In an interview last September, Jobs said last "dedicated devices" like the Kindle will remain niche products, while multi-purpose devices like the iPhone "will win the day." Jobs also said he believes the market for e-books is currently very small.
post #2 of 58
well not everyone who might have access to their products are covered by an Apple NDA so in theory someone could take a picture and not break any laws. I think that is what apple could be concerned about.

NDAs cover a company and individuals who signed them, but if you happen to be not covered by either of those then you are free to snap pictures if you like and share them with whomever you like. Now taking one and handing it over is another story.
post #3 of 58
I wonder if that's exactly what Gawker was aiming to achieve.
Also it's kind of wrong for Apple to disclose the existence of the tablet in such a manner. Something just doesn't feel right there.
post #4 of 58
Confirmation of tablet.
post #5 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck View Post

I wonder if that's exactly what Gawker was aiming to achieve.
Also it's kind of wrong for Apple to disclose the existence of the tablet in such a manner. Something just doesn't feel right there.

That would be the logical explanation.

Gawker is grubbing for pageviews and really nothing in the high-tech industry right now is grabbing them like Apple tablet-related articles.

The fact that Apple's counsel told a media source to stop soliciting trade secrets neither confirms nor denies the existence of the tablet, a cure for cancer, unicorns, etc.

Gawker is full of it. Nobody reads Valleywag which is the reason why they aren't a standalone website anymore, just a column for the main Gawker site. This is just a sleazy attempt at pageviews. Valleywag contributes no insight into the high-tech industry.

Gawker is just trying to jump aboard the Apple Tablet Rumor Pageview Gravy Train. They don't actually have anything to say, so they resort to this sort of pathetic grandstanding, like of like the Jon & Kate Gosselin of high-tech journalism. Typical Gawker behavior.
post #6 of 58
How can someone get paid if Valleywag doesn't know who you are?
post #7 of 58
In the words of Joe McGrath..."You can't put a bounty on a man's head..."

...and apparently not an Apple Tablet as well....
post #8 of 58
DISCLAIMER: I think the Apple tablet is coming...and soon.

This is pretty standard boilerplate stuff. I think that if Gawker were to produce a headline that went "$100,000 for anyone who can show us concrete proof that Apple is making a [something]" they would get a C&D. It's not confirmation for the contracted law firm (who likely don't know if this product exists) to ask them to stop offering a bounty. It could have the affect of someone saying "I don't have proof of the tablet, but I could show them [product x]. Maybe they'll still pay me for it!"
post #9 of 58
Ah, journalistic ethics these days..... increasingly an oxymoron.
post #10 of 58
Quote:
Valleywag responded by sarcastically declaring Apple the winner of its "contest,"

Can Apple now sue Valleywag to get the prize?
post #11 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

well not everyone who might have access to their products are covered by an Apple NDA so in theory someone could take a picture and not break any laws.

There are laws against the theft of trade secrets separate from and in addition to any contracts (NDAs) that may exist between parties.

Even if you're not under an NDA, you can't just snap a picture/make a copy of a trade secret and sell it. Let alone nab and sell the actual (intellectual) property of Apple, Inc.
post #12 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

well not everyone who might have access to their products are covered by an Apple NDA

I highly doubt this is correct.
There are no "casual" observers of unreleased products.
Quote:
but if you happen to be not covered by either of those then you are free to snap pictures if you like and share them with whomever you like.

Individuals do NOT have access to unlreleased products unless they are covered by an NDA. No one gets to wander around Apple R&D and browse.
post #13 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

Can Apple now sue Valleywag to get the prize?

Nope. They never provided a picture. No $10,00 award for Apple. Too bad for Apple, lol.
post #14 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck View Post

I wonder if that's exactly what Gawker was aiming to achieve.

publicity for his little known site
post #15 of 58
Apple should claim the prize themselves. At $800 and a 12% net profit that is worth the sale of 1000 units right there. (No, I'm not serious)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Confirmation of tablet.

Looks that way.
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post #16 of 58
any reason why the lawyer didn't address their client by their real name "Apple, Inc." You would think for something as formal as a cease and desist, they would get their client's name right.
post #17 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Confirmation of tablet.

We didn't need any. I knew it was coming for two years. Just like we knew Apple were making a phone, they sort of had no choice.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #18 of 58
I never read ValleyWag, but this just makes it a certain thing that I never will.
What a bunch of shallow opportunistic a-holes.

Besides, they are on even shakier leal grounds now given they can't use the excuse of not knowing it's illegal or that NDAs are involved. If someone *does* break their NDA and communicate with them, they are criminally liable if Apple ever finds out who it is/was.
post #19 of 58
Apple blinked.
post #20 of 58
Wow how much more obvious could it be that the publication is apple and this all just to generate publicity before the event.
post #21 of 58
I wouldn't stick around to find out what happens if I kept the contest up...
post #22 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

How can someone get paid if Valleywag doesn't know who you are?

If you read the terms of the agreement for payment, you have to tell them who you are, your birth date and social security number.

Since a crime most likely would be committed in order to fulfill the contest, that leaves a nice trail to the criminal, for the Apple and the courts to follow the money.

This is just a publicity stunt.
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post #23 of 58
Wow, does Apple really have the entire tech industry up in a tizzy over this supposedly new device? whatever happen to Steve Ballmers slate pc showing? Guess the world is not too excited about microsoft products anymore are they?\
post #24 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

We didn't need any. I knew it was coming for two years. Just like we knew Apple were making a phone, they sort of had no choice.

Ireland, they called you crazy. Just like Van Gogh, you were just ahead of your time.
post #25 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

How can someone get paid if Valleywag doesn't know who you are?

The $100,000 is off the table and maybe there never was an intention of paying it out to anyone. Anyone high enough up the food chain to be in the know about the tablet would have been foolish to throw away a career for a $100,000 payout.
post #26 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

Wow, does Apple really have the entire tech industry up in a tizzy over this supposedly new device? whatever happen to Steve Ballmers slate pc showing? Guess the world is not too excited about microsoft products anymore are they?\

I don't know about that. The world might have gotten excited about it if Ballmer had actually announced anything to get excited about! No release date, no specs, no hands-on I mean, come on! We know it runs Windows 7 and will have a Kindle app. That's not a product announcement! It's just a desperate attempt to take a little glory from Apple when even they know they've got nothing to show.
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post #27 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

well not everyone who might have access to their products are covered by an Apple NDA so in theory someone could take a picture and not break any laws. I think that is what apple could be concerned about.

I've seen the page. they won't pay out until the tablet is released. to prove that the photos/videos are not fake

and actually this was likely nothing more than a PR stunt. The Wag knows that the only folks that could provide that level of solid proof would be in Cupe and thus would be breaking the law and risking their jobs etc. so of course they won't do it. But tons of folks would talk about the offer and the response and go check out the site, thus gaining them lots of hits

Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

Wow, does Apple really have the entire tech industry up in a tizzy over this supposedly new device? whatever happen to Steve Ballmers slate pc showing? Guess the world is not too excited about microsoft products anymore are they?\

1. it wasn't a Microsoft product. the hardware was all other companies.
2. it was a prototype which could have been mocked up AFTER all the rumors confirming that Apple is most definitely working on a tablet for the very near future came out. and as pointed out a rather detail less prototype at that
3. the presentation was fraught with tech issues including a delay of like 20 minutes when they blew a circuit. not to mention that Ballmer has the public speaking skills of a dull pencil
4. no mention of when or how much. At least when Apple does announce something they have a date and often a price even if it is six months away. they rarely to never say 'this year' they say "shipping now, will be in stores by the end of the week" or "shipping next month" or "will be released in June" and so on.

what Ballmer should have done was skip the Twilight cover and get the Twilight Kids on the stage. it wouldn't matter how lame the tablet is, if Edward is holding it, there are scores of rabid 40 year olds and their daughters that will just have to get one

oh wait. they all use iphones (proven by the tons of photos) so they are probably Apple fans. or at least Apple friendly. and they don't need blip of money such an appearance would get them. soooo, they aren't likely to do it. not for Ballmer. If Steve offered them the cash and a free tablet they might turn up for him.
post #28 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

If you read the terms of the agreement for payment, you have to tell them who you are, your birth date and social security number.

Since a crime most likely would be committed in order to fulfill the contest, that leaves a nice trail to the criminal, for the Apple and the courts to follow the money.

This is just a publicity stunt.

On the other hand, an anonymous winner will provide the icing to the ValleyWag's cake - they will have received the scoop they so desperately seek, and by the rules of their solicitation, they would be under no obligation to pay the anonymous winner a penny.

Win-win for unethical shyster journalism...
post #29 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by airmanchairman View Post

On the other hand, an anonymous winner will provide the icing to the ValleyWag's cake - they will have received the scoop they so desperately seek, and by the rules of their solicitation, they would be under no obligation to pay the anonymous winner a penny.

Win-win for unethical shyster journalism...


Bingo! Your a WINNER!!
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post #30 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

well not everyone who might have access to their products are covered by an Apple NDA so in theory someone could take a picture and not break any laws. I think that is what apple could be concerned about.

NDAs cover a company and individuals who signed them, but if you happen to be not covered by either of those then you are free to snap pictures if you like and share them with whomever you like. Now taking one and handing it over is another story.

The protection of TRADE SECRETS goes beyond having signed an NDA or not. NDA´s are not a requirement per se, though they do help a lot. Its illegal to offer a payment to go out and steal trade secrets.
post #31 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Ingersol View Post

There are laws against the theft of trade secrets separate from and in addition to any contracts (NDAs) that may exist between parties.

Even if you're not under an NDA, you can't just snap a picture/make a copy of a trade secret and sell it. Let alone nab and sell the actual (intellectual) property of Apple, Inc.

A visual representation of a products look is not a trade secret. They're saying a picture of an unreleased iPhone is the same as "The Colonel's secret recipe".
post #32 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunga View Post

A visual representation of a products look is not a trade secret. They're saying a picture of an unreleased iPhone is the same as "The Colonel's secret recipe".

Mmm... California Fried Transistors...
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post #33 of 58
Frankly, who cares if someone does serve up a photo of the tablet, assuming of course it does exist. Honestly, what is there left for us to imagine re the form factor. It would most likely be something akin to a Touch but a lot bigger. It's the details that matter and those will apparently be formally unveiled roughly two weeks from now. We'll be there in a blink of an eye.

I have to say, though, that if Apple itself has stoked the rumour flames, they've done so rather expertly. I've never seen anything quite like this in regards to an imminent product announcement. The only down side, for Apple is that no matter what they unveil, it can't possibly live up to expectations. It's a risk but on the other hand get a load of all that free publicity. Apple doesn't even present anything at CES yet wound up being the elephant in the room. Everybody knows that 3D TV is at best a fringe market with little chance of enjoying mass adoption. Apple's tablet, on the other hand, has the competition scrambling even before the thing has been publicly unveiled. Impressive.
post #34 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Ah, journalistic ethics these days..... increasingly an oxymoron.

That is the sad truth.

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post #35 of 58
"Apple Lawyers": Better stop trying to get your hands on a product we ain't got! (I know English grammar is atrocious)...

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post #36 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

We didn't need any. I knew it was coming for two years. Just like we knew Apple were making a phone, they sort of had no choice.

You meant to say 'I did not need any, since not all of us 'we' knew it was coming, since it was a rumor and still is until we see the finished product. Yes there is high probability that an announcement will be made in late January, but still no one outside of Apple & select few has see this product.
post #37 of 58
Do you have proof that not everybody who has access to Apple's unannounced products are not covered by a NDA? I would suspect the opposite is true. With that said, it is not illegal to violate a NDA. It just subjects you to a civil lawsuit where you might have to pay Apple an enormous amount of money in damages.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

well not everyone who might have access to their products are covered by an Apple NDA so in theory someone could take a picture and not break any laws. I think that is what apple could be concerned about.

NDAs cover a company and individuals who signed them, but if you happen to be not covered by either of those then you are free to snap pictures if you like and share them with whomever you like. Now taking one and handing it over is another story.
post #38 of 58
I am pretty sure anyone who would have the ability to take advantage of this offer, will have signed an NDA.
post #39 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

I've never seen anything quite like this in regards to an imminent product announcement.

You don't recall the hype and hyperventilation surrounding the original iPhone intro (starting mid-to-late 2006), or you must be very (very) young.

Ah, how soon these little whippersnappers forget the good old days........
post #40 of 58
Apple should announce iWorks 10 at this event and make everyone look like idiots, then a week later in an impromptu news conference show the tablet.
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