Apple interrogated on supposed trade secret leaks

A three-judge panel of the 6th US District Court of Appeals posed tough questions on Apple Computer in a case seeking to identify the sources who leaked confidential information about an unreleased product to online media outlets in 2004, the Associated Press said.

According to the report, Apple contended that the unidentified sources, presumed to be company employees, violated its trade secrets.

It subpoenaed the Internet service providers of three online journalists to turn over e-mail records to uncover the possible sources, the report said.

A lower court last year ruled in Apple's favor but the Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose attorneys represented the online journalists of AppleInsider.com, PowerPage.org and MacNN.com appealed, the report added. The civil liberties organization argued that Apple's protection of trade secrets in this case should not outweigh the journalists' First Amendment right to confidential sources nor the privacy protections of e-mails allowed under federal law, according to the report.

The appellate panel in San Jose questioned Apple's stance, including its claim that the published diagrams of the unreleased music-related product code-named "Asteroid" amounted to a trade secret.

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