Nokia suffered a leak this week with an N8 prototype phone being acquired by a Russian blogger. Suffice to say, the device was an early model and could not be expected to perform as well as a final-release product, and the blog post reflected so (apparently; I don't speak Russian).
Instead of serving up a court order - which, Apple may or may not have been directly involved in, raiding a journalist's home, potentially violating his First Amendment freedom's and taking a shed load of his stuff, Nokia took a softer approach.
They kindly asked for it back. No legal threats, no court order, no bashing down of the front door and certainly no rights violations.
In a blog post published earlier today, Nokia said:
"Unfortunately, an early prototype made its way to someone that wasn’t supposed to have it, and his early first impressions of the device and its software spread like wildfire..."
"...However, whilst we are determined to protect our intellectual property and maintain the surprise when a shiny new gadget is introduced, we are not going to do so at the expense of the working conditions we enjoy here at Nokia. We are not the Secret Police, and we want to maintain our culture of openness. We won’t let days like yesterday alter that [in reference to iPhone 4G leak]"
"So now that the official news is out, we’d like our prototype back. Please."
Of course, this doesn't mean that the person leaking or the site would be put through legal proceedings, but it's not in Nokia's interest to do so. Even though the two companies, Apple and Nokia, have engaged in long-running disputes over patents and suchlike, Nokia has always had a totally different mentality when it comes to the wider public.
I think the best paradigm to consult is that while Apple restricts information to a point where the typical response from the PR department is "no comment", Nokia takes it on the chin and accepts that these things will happen. Though industrial secrets are important to hold on to, the two cultures between the companies are like polar opposites.
A post by a different author later in the day officially announced the N8, which for the record, looks like an awesome phone. I'd certainly like to see another phone with the Maemo operating system though, as when I had in my hands the N900, I almost exploded with excitement and amazement.
Whether or not you agree with Chen's actions, ethics or even legalities, it's not hugely important. What does strike true is that Apple through this entire process - irregardless of how involved they are with the current legal proceedings - look like, in my opinion, ruthless, unrelenting bullies. And there is such a thing as bad press, because they're rightfully drowning in it.
Nokia, I applaud you. You are the sort of company the Generation Y should want to work for.