Today, Apple news site Think Secret announced it has settled Apple's lawsuit against it. While the terms have not been disclosed, "no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published."

The Think Secret suit, filed several years ago, sought to hold Think Secret liable for posting news about upcoming Apple products. It is was filed around the same time as the Apple v. Does lawsuit in which EFF successfully represented Apple Insider and Powerpage, but with a critical difference. In Apple v. Does, Apple sought the identities of the sources in Apple Insider and Powerpage, but in Apple v. Think Secret, Apple sought to hold the journalists directly liable.

EFF helped Think Secret find legal counsel, and, with the able assistance of attorney Terry Gross of Gross & Belsky, Think Secret filed a thoroughly researched and well written anti-SLAPP motion to strike the lawsuit on free speech grounds. The motion stopped Apple's lawsuit in its tracks, and raised the prospect that Apple would have had to pay Think Secret substantial sums for its legal fees. That motion has been pending since March 2005: the court hearing on that motion was repeatedly continued in stipulations signed by Apple, suggesting that Apple did not want a final ruling on the motion. While the Court has never ruled, we believe the motion was meritorious, and Apple was looking at the prospect an embarrassing and expensive loss.

We understand that Nick Ciarelli, the journalist who ran Think Secret, is "very satisfied" with the settlement. While it is sad that Think Secret will be closing its doors, since it was a valuable news source, Ciarelli is now free to move on to other things, and it would be surprising if Apple did not include a handsome payment as part of the settlement agreement (EFF has not seen and is not aware of the terms). We can only hope that this will be a powerful lesson to Apple, and the company will eventually learn not to sue its fans.

Related Issues