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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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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)

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