Gizmodo Editor Hires Lawyer Over “Stolen” Iphone


If you haven’t been keeping up with the Gizmodo iPhone scandal, here’s a quick primer:

Someone finds an iPhone in a bar and notices it doesn’t look normal.  Upon a little investigating, it turns out the iPhone may be an ultra secret prototype left there by a drunken Apple employee.

The person who found the phone called Apple, which supposedly blew him off.  The finder then offered the iPhone up for sale to several publications, and the gadget blog Gizmodo bought it for $5000.  After publishing extensive details and pictures of the iPhone, Gizmodo returned the phone to Apple. Now Apple is steaming mad that their super duper, ultra secret iPhone prototype has been exposed to the public.

The big question: was a crime committed?

Well, it’s starting to look that way after police raided Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s home in San Francisco.  Chen has now hired criminal defense lawyer Thomas Nolan Jr., from the law firm Nolan, Armstrong & Barton in Palo Alto, California.  Gizmodo’s parent company, Gawker Media, has also hired Thomas Burke, a first-amendment (freedom of speech/press) specialist at Davis Wright Tremaine.

There are a variety of legal issues that are going to make this case very sticky.  The main one now is whether a judge can issue a search warrant to seize a journalist’s unpublished materials or sources.  If not, the raid of Chen’s home would be illegal.  For now, police are not viewing the contents of Chen’s computer until the issue is resolved.  It’s also unclear whether the police are after Chen, or whether they just want information to go after someone else involved in the iPhone sale.