RealTime IT News

Apple, Tiger Leaker Come to Terms

Apple lawyers settled with one of 28 individuals it sued for disseminating source code of an upcoming version of the Mac operating system, code-named Tiger, officials said Thursday.

Doug Steigerwald, a Raleigh, N.C., resident, settled with the Cupertino, Calif., company three months after getting served a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement, breach of contract, and trade secret misappropriation and conversion. Also listed in the December 2004 lawsuit were Vivek Sambhara, David Schwartzstein and 25 unnamed individuals, called "Does."

"While Apple will always protect its innovations, it is not our desire to send students to jail," Apple officials stated. "We are pleased that Mr. Steigerwald has taken responsibility for his actions and that we can put this lawsuit behind us."

Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman, said the suit against the other two named defendants and 25 Does is still active. Joe Cheshire, the lawyer representing Steigerwald, was not available for comment.

Apple allows developers to peek at its code before products are released through its Apple Developer Connection (ADC). The program allows ISVs to create interoperable products.

As part of the ADC program, developers sign a contract, which is renewed every year, agreeing not to distribute the software or disclose information about the pre-release products to anyone other than the developer's employees and contractors who have also signed the ADC contract.

According to the original complaint, Apple lawyers allege Steigerwald downloaded a build to Apple's upcoming Mac OS X version 10.4, in October 2004 and began disseminating the code through a public BitTorrent Web site. They state he further encouraged others to download the software to spread the copy.

Sambhara and Schwartzstein were implicated in the lawsuit, lawyers stated, because they downloaded the code Steigerwald provided on the BitTorrent forum and uploaded it to other users. As ADC program members themselves, that action violated the terms of their agreement with Apple not to distribute pre-release code.

According to the Apple suit, more than 2,500 copies of the build were obtained through the peer-to-peer transfers.

The Cupertino, Calif., software company is involved in two other high-profile lawsuits against members of its community.

Other leaks of upcoming Apple products led to a lawsuit against "Does 1-25"; Apple is trying to get the owners of ThinkSecret.com, AppleInsider.com and PowerPage to divulge the names of the unidentified sources who tipped them off to the privileged information.

So far, they have refused, but last week Apple lawyers were able to convince a judge to uphold the subpoena of one of the blogger's ISPs, Nfox.

Separately, Apple is suing Nick Ciarelli, owner of ThinkSecret.com, for misappropriating trade secrets when he published information concerning an upcoming Apple product.