Power Mac Leak Provokes Apple Legal

By Matthew Rothenberg  |  Posted 2002-07-25

Power Mac Leak Provokes Apple Legal

In its latest skirmish with independent Web sites bearing unauthorized information about the Mac, Apple Computer Inc. this week moved to block the posting of images that purportedly portray a long-awaited upgrade to its professional Power Mac systems.

On Sunday, French Mac enthusiast site MacBidouille ("Mac Do-It-Yourself") published images and diagrams purporting to be prototypes of the future pro tower, which missed the boat for last weeks Macworld Expo in New York.

Independent sources report that the new towers, which are expected to clock in at speeds faster than 1.2GHz and sport a revamped motherboard, will be unveiled in August. The current Power Macs, which debuted in late January, top out at 1GHz and are based on an older design.

MacBidouilles postings included photographs allegedly showing the new G4s internals, as well as a diagram and a shot of the front of a prototype casing. The new towers chassis resembles the "El Capitan" casing that has been the mainstay of Apples pro lineup since 1999, although the layout has been changed. The photos show the speaker near the top of the case, with a glossed aluminum panel for the optical drives in the middle, and air intakes near the bottom.

Eighteen hours later, MacBidouille officials said the site received an email from Apples copyright counsel, Washington-based Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn PLLC. "Your company may be disclosing Apple confidential business information and/or Apple trade secrets and may be held liable for infringing Apples rights," the letter said, going on to request that the site "cease and desist" from displaying the photographs. MacBidouille removed the material promptly and replied with confirmation that it had been taken down, said Eric Vence, a representative from the site. He added that MacBidouille has not heard from Apple or its attorneys since then. (Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple did not respond to requests for comment.)

"The post wasnt meant to annoy or mess with Apple, but to give hope to all the Mac addicts waiting for an new Power Mac," Vence said in an e-mail to eWEEK. "All professionals have the feeling of being left aside by Apple and are waiting for a new powerful Mac deserving this name." Vence also noted that on the PC side, pre-release information on product is frequently posted to news Web sites, and that companies "dont seem to make a big thing about it." While he acknowledged that Apple likes to keep leaks at bay, Vence pointed out that the company is the only supplier of Mac hardware.

Mac site MacRumors.com also says that it received a copy of the new Power Mac diagram, and that Apples legal department similarly demanded its removal. MacRumors posted additional information on the new towers from its own sources, reporting that it has a slim power supply, will use DDR RAM, and will have a silver case like the Xserve, Apples rack-mounted server.

Page Two

: Plenty of Precedent">

Plenty of Precedent

This is hardly the first time that Apple has moved to block the posting of unauthorized Mac images. Just weeks before Macworld Expo/New York in July 2001, Mac site MacOSX.org published "spy photos" of the then-unreleased "QuickSilver" Power Macs G4s. Chevell, proprietor of MacOSX.org, said that the photographs were taken inside a test lab at Apples Cupertino headquarters. He says that many in the Mac community doubted that the photos were real but that he was confident of their accuracy.

According to Chevell, MacOSX.org received a legal notice from Arent Fox after it posted the Power Mac pictures. "Rather than fight it, I removed the photos," he says. "We have no legal department. While generating hits increases ... advertising revenue, getting sued by Apple, whether I win or not, was going to cost a lot more than did just removing the photos from the site."

Chevell says that his information was verified, and he saw it as his duty to inform the public. It wasnt his first encounter with Apples legal department, though; he said he has received many cease-and-desist orders for his reviews of pre-release Mac OS X betas. "The Arent Fox lawyer eventually began to call me at home and on my cell phone," he said. "I have probably asked Arent Fox 10 or more times for their orders in writing. I have never once received any."

He says that he eventually informed Arent Fox that he was fed up with the frequent calls, and that he would "no longer be complying with their requests." Furthermore, he told the firm he planned to sue if there was "further harassment." Chevell says he has not heard from Apple since. "I feel that Apple legal knows that they have no recourse other than threatening small sites that know they cannot fight a court battle."

In September 1999, Apples legal team moved aggressively to stem the distribution of images of its forthcoming "Kihei" iMacs, a.k.a. the iMac DV. The photos, first posted by Germanys MacNews.de, were removed within a day.

Apple: Theyre not the press

Before this months Macworld Expo, some independent Mac sites learned that they had been denied press access to the event, reportedly because of their publishing of "rumor and speculation." The move sparked lively debate in the Mac community, especially when typically non-rumor sites such as MacFixIt posted word that their media badges had been revoked.

MacOSX.orgs Chevell says that Apple made a similar move at Januarys Macworld Expo/San Francisco, denying press access to his writers. "This underhanded move by Apple has nothing to do with Apple legal and underscores the tone of the Macworld Expo," he says. "Apple rules the Expo with an iron fist. This kind of treatment is rampant by Apple and should be remedied, but they know [journalists] will be back."

Nick dePlume is the Editor in Chief of Think Secret.

Related Stories:

  • Apple-friendly Software Floods Macworld
  • More Macworld Coverage

  • Rocket Fuel