On the heels of Apple Computers attempt to crack down on journalists for allegedly misappropriating trade secrets, some free-speech advocates are worried that Microsoft has launched a similar campaign.
In a Jan. 18 letter it said was issued on behalf of Microsoft, the law firm of Covington & Burling asked the publisher of tech-enthusiast site Engadget.com to remove screenshots of a forthcoming Microsoft operating-system release known as “Windows Mobile 2005.”
According to the request, Microsoft considers the images to contain “proprietary trade-secret information belonging to Microsoft.”
Microsoft also requested that two other Windows-focused sites, Neowin.net and Bink.nu, remove related information from their Web sites. Neowin was the first site to publish in early January the alleged screen shots and development schedule for Windows Mobile 2005.
Neowin and Bink removed the Windows Mobile 2005 information at Microsofts request. (Neowin received a phone request from a Microsoft representative, and Bink received an e-mail one from a “Microsoft Internet Investigator,” site principal Steven Bink said.)
As of the time this article was published, Engadget publisher Weblogs Inc. still had not removed the Windows Mobile 2005 screen shots and information from its site.
Microsoft did not respond to questions from Microsoft Watch about whether it is stepping up its campaign to limit the publication of information it considers trade secrets.
Instead, a company spokesman issued this statement via e-mail: “It is routine in business, particularly in the high-tech IP industry, for companies to take steps to protect intellectual property. Legal notifications requesting that businesses or individuals not post proprietary material are common in the industry.”
Click here for a blog entry on why Nick Ciarelli of Think Secret should not be penalized over the Apple information his site published.
Microsoft officials in the past have requested that various Web sites remove information. And a number of sites—claiming interest in maintaining good relationships with the company and/or retaining their ability to participate in Microsoft beta programs and other community activities—have done so.