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The Social Customer Wonders, MIPTC Tries To Answer

Christopher Carfi over at the Social Customer Manifesto asked the good Professor and me about this post. Whew! Think there are enough prepositions in that last sentence?

Anyway, it seems that c|net reported that Apple (doesn't it seem like the appropriate Apple URL extension would be ".org"?) is suing one of its fan sites over allegedly releasing Apple trade secrets.

And the announcement came out just before MacWorld.

Coincidence or coincidence? I think it wasn't.

Chris and others wanted to know why. There were the typical "I'm not a lawyer, but ..." statements, and I take Chris' question to heart. I am a lawyer.

Except on weekends, but this time I'll make an exception for my friend.

So, Apple has trade secrets? I didn't know. But assuming that they do, and I haven't seen Apple's suit so I'm guessing that there are allegations that someone leaked trade secrets to the Apple fan site. Beyond the obvious ploy for publicity on the heels of the big splash from CES 2005, Chris and other MacHeads ask why Apple would treat its customers so.

I don't use Macs, and frankly don't understand the hype. [With tongue planted firmly in cheek here], my PC works just fine. Now that I've surely laid down the gauntlet just to give Apple apologists something to comment about, here's what I think.

Apple's legal department is known as one that aggressively protects the company's trade secrets, and legally, they believe they have to. Otherwise, once they really need to protect one, say for example what the G6 is going to look like and how fast it will run and all the cool new software that will finally beam Scotty up, the person who leaked the information and the site that published it would argue that Apple waived its right to protect its trade secrets.

If a company has trade secrets worth protecting, there's usually one good way to protect them. That's to sue. Without regard to who you sue. Customer, fan site, employee or otherwise.

That aggressive litigation stance sets the tone. Everyone knows that Apple aggressively protects its trade secrets, so presumably that aggressive stance prevents some trade secrets from being disclosed. That's where a company's value lies. According to some, as much as 70%. That seems high, but it still makes the point. According to a survey sponsored by the American Society for Industrial Security and PricewaterhouseCoopers, Fortune 1,000 companies lost $45 billion in 1999 due to the theft of proprietary information.

That's a chunk of change.

Indeed. Would you buy a Mac from the corner vendor if it were just as good as the one you could buy from Apple? Maybe, maybe not.

But if you could get a full-blown Mac for under $500?

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Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, January 08, 2005 at 18:11 Comments Closed (1) |
 
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