Apple Computer reached a settlement Wednesday with a North Carolina man who leaked early versions of Tiger, the Mac OS X 10.4 operating system, onto the Internet.
Apple Computer Inc. sued Doug Steigerwald, 22, in December for copyright infringement and trade-secret misappropriation. In its civil lawsuit, which named two other defendants, Apple said the recent graduate of North Carolina State University disseminated early versions of Tiger on a file-swapping Web site, where people downloaded thousands of unauthorized copies.
Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, a statement from Steigerwald released through his lawyer confirms that he will pay unspecified monetary damages to the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer manufacturer. A federal criminal investigation against Steigerwald is ongoing.
“While Apple will always protect its innovations, it is not our desire to send students to jail,” an Apple representative said in a statement. “We are pleased that Mr. Steigerwald has taken responsibility for his actions and that we can put this lawsuit behind us.”
Steigerwald gained access to early versions of Tiger by becoming a member of the ADC (Apple Developer Connection), a resource network for developers interested working on products for the Macintosh platform. Apple alleged that Steigerwald quickly opened his copy of Tiger to a peer-to-peer network, allowing unauthorized access to Apples product.
ADC members are required to be party to a nondisclosure agreement, which includes not distributing the software they receive.
“Although I did not mean to do any harm, I realize now that my actions were wrong and that what I did caused substantial harm to Apple, and for that I am truly sorry,” Steigerwald said in a statement distributed by his lawyers, the Raleigh, N.C., firm of Cheshire, Parker, Schneider, Wells & Bryan.
“I am grateful for the chance to resolve this lawsuit and move on with my life, and hope that any publicity generated by this lawsuit discourages others from making the same mistakes I did.”
Information on the status of the suit against the other two defendants, Vivek Sambhara of Atlanta and David Schwartzstein of Norwalk, Conn., was not available.
Apple recently has garnered attention for its suits against Mac rumor sites. In December, the company asked the Superior Court of Santa Clara County to subpoena sites in order to reveal the identities of individuals who allegedly placed proprietary information or trade secrets on message boards related to rumor sites.
“Apples DNA is innovation, and the protection of our trade secrets is crucial to our success,” the company said in a statement at the time.
In January, on the eve of its Macworld Expo, Apple filed a lawsuit claiming damages from articles filed and published by the owners of the Mac rumor site ThinkSecret.com. Apple said recent ThinkSecret articles contained trade secrets.