Think Secret: Dismiss Apple Lawsuit
Mac enthusiast Web site Think Secret has filed a special motion to dismiss Apple's lawsuit against it on First Amendment grounds. The motion cites a California law called the Anti-SLAPP Statute, which is a legal safety net against lawsuits that are frivolous attempts to suppress free speech.
Last week, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg issued a preliminary ruling in a separate case stating that journalistic protections do not cover Web sites against three Mac enthusiast sites including the dePlume Organization LLC, which operates Think Secret.
The legal wrangling is the result of a "John Doe" lawsuit filed by Apple against Web sites that reportedly exposed the company's plans for FireWire-based interface for GarageBand known by the code-name "Asteroid".
Apple filed a second lawsuit specifically against Think Secret for publishing news that Apple was ready to launch a new flash memory based iPod and a new productivity suite code-named Sugar.
In each case, Apple claimed that its "trade secrets" had been unlawfully disclosed and issued subpoenas demanding that the sites reveal their anonymous sources. Apple's lawyers consider honoring the anonymity of sources to be "improper activity".
The court filings contend that the dePlume Organization used accepted methods used by traditional journalists in its reporting, such as accepting anonymous tips, and did not disclose source code or similar technical information that would result in economic losses. Additionally, Think Secret says it did not obtain the information illegally and did not attempt to unlawfully sell it to a third party.
The filings also contend that the "trade secrets" Apple refers to had "no economic value" due to the short duration of time between the press report and Apple's public press release.
Declarations in the filings were submitted by such dignitaries as Thomas Goldstein, who heads the Mass communications program at the University of California at Berkeley, and Dan Gillmor, the former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and New York Times reporter.
Think Secret's court filings can be viewed online.