A Californian court has decided to "unseal" a search warrant in the case of the lost prototype 4G iPhone, which found its way into the hands of Gizmodo hack Jason Chen.
The case has generated intense media interest, not just because of the tale of how the gadget was left in a bar by an unfortunate Apple employee out on the lash, but also because police subsequently turned up at Chen's home, kicked the door in and legged it with a choice selection of some 22 gadgets and computers.
In a further twist to the sordid tale, it appears that the court may have unsealed the wrong documents in its efforts to appease a salivating media horde.
An lawyer representing several media outlets had asked the court to release the search warrant pertaining to the raid on Jason Chen's home. But what was actually unsealed was the search warrant issued in connection with the finder, Brian Hogan.
The document reveals that Apple reckoned publication of details of the phone would be "immensely damaging" to its future sales.
Apple claimed punters would delay purchases until the new iPhone was released, "thereby hurting overall sales and negatively effecting Apple's earnings," the affidavit said.
The firm was tipped off about the lost device by Hogan's roommate, who panicked over her own safety after the phone was plugged into her computer.
The document says Hogan sold the phone to Gizmodo for $5,000, despite his buddies warning it might ruin the career of the unfortunate - and possibly sozzled - Apple employee Robert Powell, who apparently left the device on a bar stool. Hogan had figured out who Powell was by using Farcebook.
After Hogan handed the phone over to Gizmodo, Apple Messiah Steve Jobs himself got in touch with Gizmodo editor Brian Lam, who emailed back that he'd happily return the device if Apple confirmed that it was indeed an iPhone prototype.
According to the document, Jason Chen is a now suspect in a case of "theft" and "vandalism", with Apple complaining the phone came back from Gizmodo broken. A ribbon cable was damaged, a screw was wrongly inserted, causing a short circuit, screws were stripped and the back plate snaps broken, Apple whined.