Jason Chen of Gizmodo showing iPhone prototype
Gizmodo’s actions could have consequences, severely. Apple’s attorneys have sent notice to Gawker Media, the owners of Gizmodo requesting the unit to be returned immediately. Bruce Sewell, the attorney representing Apple wrote the formal letter. No mention of any legal action against Gizmodo or Gawker was mentioned, however Apple does have recourse according to Apple Insider.
Jason Chen of Gizmodo published the letter responding that “we didn’t know it was stolen” referring to the iPhone 4th generation that they paid $5,000 to obtain it from the person who claims to have found it in the bar. Regardless of this knowledge, the legalities involved when buying stolen merchandise (applies to whether the buyer knows they are stolen or not), the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act could apply.
Section 3425.1 states “misappropriation of trade secrets” is a civil code violation, including the release of trade secrents, publishing them in any form to earn money and notoriety.
The code further explains:
(b) “Misappropriation” means:(1) Acquisition of a secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the secret was acquired by improper means; or (2) Disclosure or use of a secret of another without express or implied consent by a person who:(A) Used improper means to acquire knowledge of the secret; or (B) At the time of disclosure or use, knew or had reason to know that his or her knowledge of the secret was: (i) Derived from or through a person who had utilized improper means to acquire it; (ii) Acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain its secrecy or limit its use; or (iii) Derived from or through a person who owed a duty to the person seeking relief to maintain its secrecy or limit its use; or (C) Before a material change of his or her position, knew or had reason to know that it was a secret and that knowledge of it had been acquired by accident or mistake.
(d) “Trade secret” means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that:(1) Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to the public or to other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and (2) Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
Remedy for “misappropriation of trade secrets” are:
§ 3426.3 (a) A complainant may recover damages for the actual loss caused by misappropriation. A complainant also may recover for the unjust enrichment caused by misappropriation that is not taken into account in computing damages for actual loss.
(b) If neither damages nor unjust enrichment caused by misappropriation are provable, the court may order payment of a reasonable royalty for no longer than the period of time the use could have been prohibited.
(c) If willful and malicious misappropriation exists, the court may award exemplary damages in an amount not exceeding twice any award made under subdivision (a) or (b).
Apple has three years to file suit against Gizmodo and or Gawker Media.
§ 3426.6. An action for misappropriation must be brought within three years after the misappropriation is discovered or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been discovered. For the purposes of this section, a continuing misappropriation constitutes a single claim.
This shines more light on the legitimacy of the iPhone prototype, whether this design is final or not is another question. However it does seem close to the iPhon3 4G concept renderings we posted back in February, and yes! It has a front facing camera.