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Steve Jobs is not amused
Gawker Media paid $5,000 for stolen iPhone

The iPhone 4G (or HD if you prefer) saga appears to be winding down. The story started over the weekend when Engadget gained access to pictures of what appears to be a prototype for the next generation iPhone. Gizmodo one-upped Engadget by actually gaining access to the actual phone.

To get the iPhone, Gawker Media -- parent of Gizmodo -- paid $5,000 to the person that found the iPhone at a bar. While Gizmodo kept the name of this person secret, it had no trouble outing the actual Apple employee who lost the phone. The employee is a 2006 graduate of NC State University and works at Apple as a BaseBand Software Engineer according to his Linkedin profile (which has since been taken down).

Now that the cat is out of the bag, Apple wants its iPhone back. Gizmodo's Brian Lam received a letter this morning from Bruce Sewell, an Apple Senior Vice President and General Counsel. The letter confirms that the iPhone in question is in fact from Apple (and not a counterfeit) and goes on to state, "This letter constitutes a formal request that you return the device to Apple. Please let me know where to pick up the unit."

Lam wrote back in a joking fashion, and even asked Apple go easy on the person that lost the phone:

Happy to have you pick this thing up. Was burning a hole in our pockets. Just so you know, we didn't know this was stolen when we bought it. Now that we definitely know it's not some knockoff, and it really is Apple's, I'm happy to see it returned to its rightful owner.

P.S. I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don't think he loves anything more than Apple.

Whether Apple will take Lam's advice and go easy on the guy remains to be seen. However, given that Steve Jobs once threw a tantrum over a newspaper exec tweeting from a prototype iPad before its release, it's doubtful that Steve will show mercy.

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money back
By Visual on 4/20/2010 9:33:08 AM , Rating: 5
Will Apple pay the $5000 to have the phone returned?

RE: money back
By Brandon Hill on 4/20/2010 9:36:41 AM , Rating: 2
Not if it was stolen goods.

RE: money back
By MrBlastman on 4/20/2010 10:16:01 AM , Rating: 5
Apple doesn't pay rewards to get stolen/outed goods back. They quietly "take care" of those who do so and they are "never seen again."

Just ask that guy in China. Oh wait, you can't.

RE: money back
By gralex on 4/20/2010 10:20:40 AM , Rating: 2
Fair enough... but you never told us why DT thinks it was "lost"

RE: money back
By gralex on 4/20/2010 10:26:44 AM , Rating: 2
i.e. stolen

RE: money back
By Brandon Hill on 4/20/2010 10:27:38 AM , Rating: 2
Lam's letter said he didn't know it was originally stolen. Thats why "lost" was in quotes -- something smells fishy, that's for sure.

Gruber goes more in depth into the whole lost vs stolen thing over at Daring Fireball

RE: money back
By gralex on 4/20/2010 10:46:06 AM , Rating: 4
But that's just lawyerspeak.

To us common folk "stolen" would mean the Apple guy was pickpocketed:)

RE: money back
By walk2k on 4/20/10, Rating: 0
RE: money back
By Alexstarfire on 4/20/2010 2:33:51 PM , Rating: 3
Don't know about your state, but in Georgia at least if you find an item and turn it in if no ones claims it in 6 months it's legally yours. There are actually a lot of strange laws like that here. For instance, if you live on someone's property for something like 10 years and they haven't lived there then it's yours. I don't believe that applies to things like leases/contracts/etc though. More like if you lived in an abandoned house for that long then you legally own it.

RE: money back
By mcnabney on 4/20/2010 11:18:04 PM , Rating: 3
What you are describing is called "Adverse Possession" and some form of it exists in every state. One has to Openly and Notoriously occupy and use the property without notification of tresspass or agreements for a pretty long time.
It is actually good law and has served to deter absentee landowning. Land needs to be put to use. Either use it or at least be aware of what is happening on it.

RE: money back
By Sazar on 4/20/2010 2:17:42 PM , Rating: 2
Gizmodo lost a lot of points in my book for the bush league way they have handled this entire scenario.

I can appreciate them looking to break the story on the phone, but beyond the initial posting, all the stuff posted about the employee and everything else seems very 4chan.

Even their condescending response back to Apple's counsel smacks of tongue-in-cheek.

RE: money back
By funkyd99 on 4/20/2010 11:10:47 AM , Rating: 3
Finder's keepers...

RE: money back
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/20/2010 11:40:22 AM , Rating: 2
Errr... I would say, They do not have to pay to have stolen item returned to them. However, they may offer reward money to person who has phone. Even if it was a stupid purchase to being with ($5,000) seems a little high price for a legit device.
So, I'd say if Apple pays any money it would be for Good Will reasons.

RE: money back
By walk2k on 4/20/2010 12:12:08 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure Gizmondo made their money back TENFOLD on pageviews.

RE: money back
By lennylim on 4/20/2010 1:25:10 PM , Rating: 5
Not if people remember remember them as "Gizmondo".

RE: money back
By lennylim on 4/20/2010 1:25:45 PM , Rating: 2
*sigh* Oh for want of an edit button...

RE: money back
By umop apisdn on 4/21/2010 1:45:57 PM , Rating: 2
There is a little known edit button available to you if you'd look. It's called proofreading your post that you're forced to preview right before you hit "post comment".

RE: money back
By JasonMick on 4/20/2010 9:45:22 AM , Rating: 4
As a journalist I can appreciate as much as anybody the need to break a story, but there's multiple problems with Gizmodo's whole behavior:

First, there's no reasonable excuse for them publishing all the information on the dude who lost it, including his name and picture. That could be interpreted as character defamation or libel. At the very least it's a douche move. You always protect your sources and it's completely unethical to engage in personal attacks.

Lam can play all innocent, but in the Jesus Diaz piece, the employee was portrayed in a very negative and demeaning light. Worse, it relied entirely on hearsay.

Then to top it off, I can't believe Gizmodo ADMITTED to buying the phone. I'm no lawyer, but it seems like "buying" lost property, is akin to buying stolen property. I'd be amazed if that doesn't violate some law.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no Apple groupie and it was a great scoop for Giz.

That said, the way they conducted themselves was certainly unethical, and quite possibly illegal. That personal attack was completely over the top and launched them into tabloid territory.

RE: money back
By wifiwolf on 4/20/2010 9:55:17 AM , Rating: 2
Agree. And it's a stupid move since Jobs would pay more for the name of the employee than for the phone. :D

RE: money back
By beerhound on 4/20/2010 10:57:41 AM , Rating: 2
Apple didn't need any help finding the name of the employee. It was a prototype, there can't be that many floating around out there. Since they remotely bricked it, the guy probably called his supervisor the next day and told them what happened. Wouldn't it suck to have your dream job and have to make the phone call. "Boss, uuummmm we have a problem. I lost my phone."

RE: money back
By bodar on 4/20/2010 3:21:21 PM , Rating: 5
"Apology accepted, Captain Needa. *whhhooo-keessshhh*"

Ahhh, maybe they'll let him off easy and just ruin his career.

RE: money back
By tdawg on 4/20/2010 11:20:40 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know, maybe it was a smart move to identify the person that lost the device. Now a lot of people know who he is and if he all of a sudden loses his job at Apple, there might be a public backlash/outcry that Apple would have to deal with, so Apple might think twice about firing the kid.

RE: money back
By Newspapercrane on 4/20/2010 11:52:34 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't be so much worried about losing his job as "Disappearing" With his name out there if he comes to an unfortunate end relatively soon, we'll all know why.

RE: money back
By MPE on 4/20/2010 10:02:37 AM , Rating: 2
You guys have your own issues with journalistic standards. You should concern yourselves with that first.

RE: money back
By banthracis on 4/20/2010 10:09:21 AM , Rating: 5
Actually, if they've been truthful, Gizmodo pretty much has no legal liability here.

If you read the gizmodo article on how they acquired the device, it appears the person who originally found it contacted Apple several times in an attempt to return the device and even had a ticket number.

Apple did not get back to the individual. Because a good faith attempt was made to return the device and the company did not appear to want it back (there was a period of weeks for apple to request the device back before gizmodo purchased it), the device can be considered abandoned property.

Failing that, because gizmodo has offered to return the device as soon as the owner(Apple) admitted it was their device and requested it back, they have no legal liability.

RE: money back
By samspqr on 4/21/2010 5:36:54 AM , Rating: 2

(why wouldn't this board let me post just that "+1"?)
(forget it, I think it will work with this down here)

RE: money back
By Lord 666 on 4/20/2010 10:57:05 AM , Rating: 5
Corrected that for you;

As a blogger...

RE: money back
By MPE on 4/20/2010 11:19:05 AM , Rating: 2
Obviously, as a "journalist" he failed to read the entire article he was criticizing.

RE: money back
By phattyboombatty on 4/20/2010 12:47:16 PM , Rating: 4
Then to top it off, I can't believe Gizmodo ADMITTED to buying the phone. I'm no lawyer, but it seems like "buying" lost property, is akin to buying stolen property.

Buying the phone makes absolutely no difference from a legal perspective. The potential crime is "knowingly taking possession of stolen property." If they knew it was stolen, whether they bought it or were given the phone as a gift free of charge is irrelevant.

RE: money back
By mfenn on 4/20/2010 12:50:36 PM , Rating: 2
Holy crap, I can't believe I'm agreeing with Mick on this!

If they're not legally liable, they are, at the very least, douches.

RE: money back
By phattyboombatty on 4/20/2010 12:51:50 PM , Rating: 3
You always protect your sources

And Gizmodo did protect its source. The employee who lost his phone was not Gizmodo's source, so Gizmodo had no ethical obligation to keep his name a secret.
First, there's no reasonable excuse for them publishing all the information on the dude who lost it, including his name and picture. That could be interpreted as character defamation or libel.

It's only character defamation or libel if Gizmodo said anything that was false. If it turns out that the phone was not lost by this particular Apple employee, Gizmodo is probably on the hook for libel.

RE: money back
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/2010 4:46:18 PM , Rating: 2
As a journalist...

Ha ! HAHAAHhhaha !! HHHAAHAAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaa !! HAHAHHAAAAAAAA oh god I can't breath...


Ok I'm cool....

AHAHAHAHAHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaAHAhhahahahahahah ahahaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaa aa !!!!!!!!!!!!

RE: money back
By phattyboombatty on 4/20/2010 5:50:57 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't seen a 6 in a while, but you sir have earned it (don't hold your breath though).

RE: money back
By Hieyeck on 4/21/2010 12:17:54 PM , Rating: 2
but you sir have earned it

Reclaimer77 posting a 6 worthy post? That almost makes me want to post a comment as poorly composed as his. I have never known anyone to laugh with extended "ha"s. And if he actually does, he would be the type I would want to punch in the face.

RE: money back
By darkblade33 on 4/20/2010 11:33:00 AM , Rating: 1
Its hard to say whether the guy "Who lost it" or the "Guy who found it on the counter and sold it" are the same guy.

Although I'd say probable they are.. Someone knows

By Zigazoid on 4/20/2010 9:46:43 AM , Rating: 5
This all smells like a viral marketing collaboration between Apple and Gizmodo. Everything just fits together a little too well.

RE: Nice
By acase on 4/20/2010 10:09:04 AM , Rating: 4
Agreed. It was timed a little too well with the release and buzz about the (much better) Droid Incredible.

RE: Nice
By TheDoc9 on 4/20/2010 10:32:05 AM , Rating: 4
exactly, its all marketing to see the reaction to the design and crush competition. These phones do have GPS, if apple ever really wanted it back.

RE: Nice
By gralex on 4/20/2010 8:51:32 PM , Rating: 2
How creepy would it be if Apple was extra-nice to this guy?

Normally conspiracy theories bore me to death, but since Apple has a reputation of secrecy that makes National Security seem like amateurs... How did this thing get out the gate?

But it's a 2for1 PR-dream if the company takes blame for the loss. That way, a) we get the word out (and more importantly)...

b) "See we ain't the totalitarians the media claims. After all it was the guy's birthday!"

RE: Nice
By gralex on 4/29/2010 4:57:57 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah... in my dreams!:(

RE: Nice
By seamonkey79 on 4/20/2010 11:08:39 AM , Rating: 2
Nice to know I'm not the only one that sees stuff like this like that :-)

RE: Nice
By HackSacken on 4/20/2010 12:45:37 PM , Rating: 3
I concur. This is practically the equivalent of a teaser for a movie, only better.

Gorilla Marketing...
By djcameron on 4/20/2010 11:02:55 AM , Rating: 5
There is no way this was an accident. This was just Apple, doing what they always do, and using hype, the news media, and the blogs to gain tons of free advertising and "excitement".

RE: Gorilla Marketing...
By geddarkstorm on 4/20/2010 12:54:10 PM , Rating: 3
It is rather brilliant when you think about it. And now if they "spare" the poor employee who "lost" the device... boom, even more good kudos points for Apple in the eyes of the public. It's no surprise they picked a 4-years-out-of-college guy to take the fall for this.

I mean, come on, found in a bar? Can you really believe a story like that for a prototype device from a company that takes secrecy to the point of insanity? No.

RE: Gorilla Marketing...
By phattyboombatty on 4/20/2010 12:56:18 PM , Rating: 2
It is definitely hard to believe that a prototype iPhone 4G was able to make it out of the Apple building. The security is amazingly tight at those facilities.

By Gio6518 on 4/20/2010 1:46:01 PM , Rating: 4
what a bore !
basically all the same hardware just some new aesthetics
a flash for the camera, and a front facing webcam, a larger battery, whoop de freakin do......
wow they just keep falling farther and farther behind..

Nexus One, Incredible, and especially the EVO 4g are so much more impressive

RE: ZZZZZzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz
By jrb531 on 4/20/2010 1:57:15 PM , Rating: 1
And beta was technically better also...

Yes the Iphone/Touch is not the best "technically" but who the hell cares if I cannot get in on those 500k apps that are for the Iphone?

Until another company can compete in the app dept... well game over man!

RE: ZZZZZzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz
By Gio6518 on 4/20/2010 3:34:59 PM , Rating: 2
Yes the Iphone/Touch is not the best "technically" but who the hell cares if I cannot get in on those 500k apps that are for the Iphone?

and with multi-tasking coming ill be able to use all 3000+ gps programs all at once, or even all 5000+ fart apps at once to make a super-atomic-seismic fart noise weehaa

By Cheesew1z69 on 4/20/2010 9:40:16 AM , Rating: 2

JK of course :)

By DEVGRU on 4/20/2010 12:21:55 PM , Rating: 2
"Scoundrel...? Scoundrel... I like the sound of that. There aren't enough Scoundrels in your life..."


By Cullinaire on 4/20/2010 6:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
Go get 'em Solo.

"iPhone 4G?" Ugh.
By CZroe on 4/20/2010 10:59:07 PM , Rating: 3
It's not just iPhone HD "if you prefer," it's simply not "iPhone 4G." As I explained in the last topic, iPhone 4G != 4th Gen iPhone any more than iPhone 3G meant "3rd Gen iPhone" (it was teh second). "iPhone 4G" implies LTE which I'm pretty sure it does not utilize. No matter what the ultimate name will be, "iPhone HD" or otherwise, "4th generation iPhone" is correct while "iPhone 4G" is not.

There's a reason none of the sources and linked articles referred to it that way. GET WITH THE PROGRAM.

Steve is just a loser
By AstroGuardian on 4/22/2010 4:30:03 AM , Rating: 2
it's doubtful that Steve will show mercy.

As far as i can remember Steve begged for mercy when they tried to sell defective 3000$ computers to customers. And now no mercy from Steve? I hope that this gay will fall in the ugliest way possible some day. That should serve him right.

I dont get it.
By RjBass on 4/20/10, Rating: -1
RE: I dont get it.
By amanojaku on 4/20/2010 11:10:54 AM , Rating: 2
Not really. A production device sold to consumers is covered by numerous patents that provide penalties for people who copy (steal) the IP. At that point a lost device is your responsibility as the owner, but the manufacturer is legally covered.

A development device may not be fully patented, so if it gets out parts of it could be copied. This has happened in the past when people leave the company and a competitor suddenly has as similar, or better, product six months later. This is partly why the non-compete clause was created. Development devices are covered by NDAs, however, to prevent the spread of IP, which includes prototypes. Even if you haven't signed the NDA it's still a legally binding contract that says you aren't authorized to have access to the IP.

Apple clearly needs to have better oversight of its prototypes (assuming this wasn't intentionally leaked), but it deserves the same protections as any other company that is developing a product.

RE: I dont get it.
By Cr0nJ0b on 4/20/2010 11:30:41 AM , Rating: 2
"Not really. A production device sold to consumers is covered by numerous patents that provide penalties for people who copy (steal) the IP. At that point a lost device is your responsibility as the owner, but the manufacturer is legally covered."

I highly doubt that there is a single fibre of that unit that is not already covered by a patent filing if required. Companies don't wait until they start to sell a produect before protecting their IP. In fact, I would imagine with Apple they have their employees continuously write down their ideas on a notepad (iPad now) and submit them for patent approval on a daily basis.

like, "hey if I step up on my tippy toes I can reach that can way up on that shelf...NOTE: Patent 1,230,203,498.02 personal elevation process without the need for elctromechanical enhancement" ( in the bank)

RE: I dont get it.
By walk2k on 4/20/2010 12:23:18 PM , Rating: 1
Of course it would be returned to you, it's your property, you own it. You don't cease to own it just because you lost it. Whoever finds it must turn it in to the police. I'm sure the guy was just saying that it's very unlikely to be found, since the theif would probably jailbreak it/etc.. whatever you call it.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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