A San Mateo judge has unsealed legal documents relating to the ongoing investigation into the loss, purchase, and subsequent publication of details regarding a prototype fourth-generation iPhone. Contained within the documents are a number of new details relating to the case, including an affidavit suggesting that Gizmodo editor Jason Chen was suspected of purchasing or receiving stolen Apple property, maliciously damaging the property, and copying an Apple trade secret. All three crimes are considered felony offenses.
According to the affidavit, prototype iPhone finder Brian Hogan learned the identity of the Apple engineer who lost the device the same evening it came into his possession, and recognized that it was, in fact, a more advanced device than any currently available iPhone model. This information came from Hogan’s roommate, who reported the incident to Apple after Hogan connected the device to her own personal computer, believing the company could trace the device back to her. Apple representatives told the authorities that the publication of details relating to the prototype phone was “immensely damaging,” and could hurt sales. The same roommate claims Hogan realized the potential value of the device, and contacted Gizmodo, Engadget, and PC World in an attempt to start a bidding war for the iPhone.
Within 10 days of obtaining the phone, Hogan made contact with Chen, who offered to purchase the device for $10,000—twice the amount Gizmodo parent Gawker Media has claimed it paid. Hogan had reportedly already received between $7,500 and $8,500 for the device at the time the affidavit was filed, with a bonus to be paid if and when Apple publicly unveiled the device. When told of the amount Hogan would receive for the device, the roommate asked why Gizmodo would pay so much for it, to which Hogan allegedly replied, “[t]hey know it’s valuable. They would receive millions and millions of hits.” The roommate also claims that she and others attempted to talk Hogan out of selling the phone, saying it would damage the career of the Apple engineer who lost it, to which Hogan reportedly replied “[s]ucks for him. He lost his phone. Shouldn’t have lost his phone.”
Notably, the document also contains copies of emails from Gizmodo Editorial Director Brian Lam to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in which Lam attempts to negotiate with Jobs for some benefit to Gizmodo in exchange for returning the phone, and to Apple Senior Vice President Bruce Sewell, the majority of which has already been published, save for an odd remark at the end referring to “spankings.” A complete collection of the documents unsealed today is embedded below.