Appeals Court gives Apple a hard time

Apple wanted access to bloggers' ISPs to finger Apple employee who revealed 'trade secret,' but Appeals Court protective of First Amendment.

A US Appeals Court gave Apple attorneys a hard time yesterday as the company defended its action against bloggers who published some diagrams of an unreleased product, the Washington Post reports. Apple claimed that the publication represented dissemination of a trade secret.

The judges were not impressed with the quality of Apple's secret.

"It's just a picture of a product, why is that a trade secret?" asked presiding Judge Conrad Rushing. "This is just plugging a guitar into a computer."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation brought the appeal after a District Court granted Apple's request to subpoena the ISPs of three bloggers to find out who inside Apple did the dirty deed. In its appeal EFF argued that Apple had not exhausted other means of identifying the employees before going to court.

Judge Franklin Elia even suggested the company could have given lie detector tests to its employees first.

"All you want here is the name of a snitch, so you're saying you have the right to invade the privacy of the e-mail system and to trump the First Amendment ... just to find out who in your organization is giving out inappropriate information?" Elia asked.

Ruling in 90 days.

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