Two men have been charged with allegedly “misappropriating” an Apple iPhone 4 prototype after the device wound up in the hands of a technology publication who leaked details before its official launch.
The district attorney’s office for the Californian jurisdiction of San Mateo on Wednesday filed “misdemeanor charges” against 22-year-old Brian Hogan and 28-year-old Sage Wallower.
They were charged with misappropriation of lost property and possession of stolen property.
Gizmodo editor, Jason Chen, who bought the phone and published images of the prototype in April 2010 will escape charges.
“After a consideration of all of the evidence, it was determined that no charges would be filed against employees of Gizmodo,” the DA’s office said in a statement.
Gizmodo’s parent company Gawker Media was pleased the “stressful” ordeal was over for Chen.
“While we have always believed that we were acting fully within the law, it has inevitably been stressful for the editor concerned, Jason Chen, and we are glad that we can finally put this matter behind us,” it said.
The pair that have been charged allegedly found the iPhone 4 prototype in a bar after it was left by Apple software engineer, Gray Powell.
Powell left the phone, well-disguised as an Apple 3GS, on his seat after a night of drinking German beer at a bar close to Cupertino,
Under Californian law, failing to make an attempt to find the owner of lost property amounts to theft.
According to Gizmodo, one of the two men charged had in fact called Apple to report the phone missing, but the report was not taken seriously.
Shortly afterwards, Chen said he bought the phone for US$5,000.
Apple chief Steve Jobs personally contacted Gizmodo editor Brian Lam pleading for him to return the phone, according to the New York Times’ Bits blog.