Apple Goes to Court to Protect Trade Secrets

In the lawsuit, Apple alleges that, starting in about February, an individual published digital images on the Internet of the company's new dual-processor Power Mac G4 and ApplePro Mouse. The suit seeks an injunction against further disclosures of Apple's trade secrets, as well as unspecified monetary damages.

Apple said in the suit that it doesn't know the real name of the defendant, who is referred to in the complaint as "Doe 1." The company will amend the complaint, filed in the Superior Court for Santa Clara County, California, when it discovers the defendant's true identity.

Companies often try to keep details of future products under wraps for both competitive and marketing reasons, though Apple has often seemed keener than most to prevent such information from being leaked.

Last month, for example, the company took ATI Technologies to task over a press statement issued by the maker of computer graphics cards shortly before the MacWorld Expo show in New York. The statement boasted that Apple would launch three new systems at the show -- an iMac and two Power Macs -- equipped with ATI graphics cards.

Apple was "obviously upset" by the leak, which led to "fairly lengthy discussions" between the two companies, an ATI spokesman said at the time.

An Apple spokeswoman on Wednesday said the company derives a "considerable business advantage" by keeping details about unreleased products under wraps.

"We are developing more innovative products than most of our competitors, and it's like stating the obvious to say that we want to keep that information confidential so that our competitors can't pilfer from us," the spokeswoman said.

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