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Apple Lawyers Strike Back at Valleywag Over Tablet Bounty

Yesterday, Valleywag received considerable attention for its questionably legal offer of up to $100,000 for legitimate information on Apple's much-anticipated tablet device. It didn't take long for Apple's lawyers to respond to the offer, with Michael Spillner of Apple's law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe sending Valleywag and Gawker a cease-and-desist letter requesting that the contest be discontinued by 6:00 PM Pacific time today.

As your offer acknowledges, Apple has maintained the types of information and things you are soliciting -- "how it'll work, its size, the name, the software", as well as any possible details about the product's appearance, features, and physical samples -- in strict confidence. Anyone who might have access to such information would be bound under the strictest contractual obligations not to disclose the information to third parties.

To that end, Spillner cites California law prohibiting the inducement of disclosure of trade secrets, putting Gawker Media "on notice" that the information it is seeking to obtain is a trade secret and thus disclosure of such information would violate California law. In addition to the demand that Gawker Media end the competition, Apple also requests that Gawker turn over any confidential materials it may have received or may yet receive and refrain from publishing or sharing them.

For its part, Valleywag has not ended its contest, instead reiterating its position that tipsters should "stay within the bounds of the law" and use anonymous e-mail addresses to prevent identification. It has also named Spillner the first "winner" of the contest for offering "the most concrete evidence yet" that an Apple tablet is under development.