On Wednesday,Â Steven Wagstaffe, theÂ San Mateo County district attorney overseeing the case, announced that two California men would be charged with misappropriation of lost property for not returning the iPhone to Apple and instead selling it to Gizmodo. Jason Chen, a blogger for Gizmodo, who purchased the lost iPhone and published images of it online, will not be charged in the case.
Last year, Mr. Chen was questioned in the case and his computer was confiscated by law enforcement. He feared being charged with possession of stolen property.
“AfterÂ a consideration of all of theÂ evidence, it was determined that no charges would be filed against employees of Gizmodo,” Mr. Wagstaffe said in a statement issued to the media.
The iPhone prototype story seemed almostÂ implausibleÂ from the start: An Apple engineer who works for the most secretive company in the technology industry hadÂ managedÂ to leave the next-generation iPhone in aÂ SiliconÂ Valley bar. The individual who found the phone then sold it to Gizmodo for $5,000. Gizmodo publicized the phone and its possession of it.
Although many wondered whether the missing iPhone was actually the property of Apple or a fake prototype, it quickly became clear that it was a real Apple smartphone. Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and chief executive, personally asked Gizmodo’s editor, Brian Lam, to return the prototype. After some legal wrangling andÂ negotiation, the phone was eventuallyÂ returned, but it was unclear if anyone at Gizmodo would be charged.
A statement attributed to the management of Gawker, the parent company of Gizmodo, was published on Gizmodo’s Web site Wednesday:
We are pleased that the District Attorney of San Mateo County, Steven Wagstaffe, has decided, upon review of all of the evidence, that no crime was committed by the Gizmodo team in relation to its reporting on the iPhone 4 prototype last year. 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.
Mr. Wagstaffe’s office said the individuals who found the iPhone would be charged. Brian Hogan, 22, a resident of RedwoodÂ City, and SageÂ Wallower, 28, aÂ residentÂ of Emeryville,Â have both chargedÂ with one count of misappropriation of lost property. Mr. Wallower was also charged with possession of stolen property.