Student seeks legal help in Apple case

The student who runs the Mac enthusiast site Think Secret warns he may struggle to afford to defend himself against a lawsuit filed by Apple Computer.

The 19-year-old student who runs the Mac enthusiast site Think Secret, which is being sued by Apple Computer, has warned he may struggle to afford to defend himself.

Apple filed court documents against Think Secret two weeks ago, alleging that recent postings on the site contain Apple trade secrets. The lawsuit aims to identify who is leaking the information and to get an injunction preventing further release of trade secrets.

Nicholas Ciarelli, who calls himself Nick dePlume online, is the publisher and editor of Think Secret. Ciarelli is not named as a defendant in the Apple lawsuit, but according to the Associated Press he needs free or low-cost legal help to defend himself against allegations that have been made.

Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has claimed that in addition to the ThinkSecret site being subpoenaed for sources, Ciarelli is being directly sued for trade secret misappropriation.

A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment on Ciarelli or on the Think Secret lawsuit.

Think Secret wrote at the end of December that Apple was expected to launch a small Mac computer, codenamed Q88 priced at US$499. Two weeks later Apple launched the Mac mini at the Macworld Expo.

An online petition has been started calling for Apple to withdraw the suit.

In a separate lawsuit, Apple is suing two men who it says distributed pre-release versions of Tiger, the next iteration of Mac OS X. It is also suing unnamed individuals who leaked details about a forthcoming music device code-named Asteroid.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.