Archive for February, 2005

Tweet Back to back with the last post, the move against big food companies is clearly real enough for UBS, a Swiss-based international investment bank, to be organizing a conference last week to gauge the future impact of the growing concern about obesity. In an FT article, the interesting though not surprsing development is that […]

Much has been made of the out-of-character decision of Apple to attack its own fan base among the alternative tech universe by suing a blogger who seems routinely to have been spilling the beans on Apple’s product announcements. In the FT article, legal opinion indicated Apple did not have much of a chance. That sounds about right. However, the assumption seems to be the computer anti-hero’s anti-hero has lost its collective marbles and turned on one of its own, threatening to damage its reputation and core franchise in the creative and alternative computer user space.

This is taking things a little far. Apple, like any corporation, has a job to do to maintain the confidentiality of its products prior to their launch. Waging the PR war is all part of branding and creating competitive advantage, and the more your competitors know about what you are doing and when you are going to do it, the easier it is for their publicity machinery to make some hay.

With this story, it is a significant acknowledgement of the threat of the uncontrolled blogosphere. There is no reason why even Apple, which commands so much sentimental support among the whacky, should not be concerned about how this medium and the attached behaviour evolves. It is impossible to control entirely, but it seems that many companies in future may have to fight some lonely battles against the crudest weapons of the smallest operators just to protect their reputations.

Indicating that there may be large legal costs associated with indiscriminate blogging is a necessary reminder to these new publishers that actions may have consequences, even if in this case the defendant is getting free legal help and looks likely to win. Other bloggers with no limits on their liability and shallow pockets might lose the shirts off their backs faced with the threat of legal action.

Therefore, Apple may sensibly be sending a signal to these potentially “errant children” that there may be reprisals for misbehaviour. In all walks of life, the internet has created new risks without any accompany sense of the liabilities of freely communicating. In the US, the classic way to communicate even sometimes with customers and business partners is through litigation. It should not be taken personally.

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