"An unidentified individual, acting alone or in concert with others, has recently misappropriated and disseminated through Web sites confidential information about an unreleased Apple product," Apple said in the lawsuit, some documents of which the company has requested be sealed.
The claim admitted that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company does not know the real identity of the defendant, stating that the complaint would be amended once that fact is known.
"Apple has filed a civil complaint against unnamed individuals who we believe stole our trade secrets and posted detailed information about an unannounced Apple product on the Internet," the company said in a statement. "Apples DNA is innovation, and the protection of our trade secrets is crucial to our success."
Apple traditionally has been secretive about upcoming product releases, regularly declining to comment on the topic. In the past, the company has garnered much media attention by revealing new products in a flashy fashion, such as at keynote speeches by company CEO Steve Jobs at annual Macintosh-specific events.
And in late 2002, Apple sued a contractor, who had since left the company, when he posted information about yet-unreleased Power Macintosh G4 desktop models.
However, where Apple goes from here is unclear. Recently, Mac-centric rumor sites on the Web have been abuzz with talk of new products in anticipation of Januarys Macworld Expo, which commonly features surprise rollouts of products.
If the suit is targeting an anonymous or pseudonymous poster on such a site, Apples claim of culpability for the sites owner has a negative precedent.
In August 2001, Microsoft attempted to file suit against the Web site Slashdot.org when an anonymous poster published what Microsoft claimed was "unauthorized reproductions of Microsofts copyrighted work."
The company claimed that Slashdot was liable for the content of its servers and potentially liable for damages. The case was dropped.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include a statement from Apple.