Friday, December 21, 2007

Apple Threatens Nine-Year-Old

One of Fortune's 101 Dumbest Moments in business last year was what seems like a bonehead move by Apple Computer:

Nine-year-old Shea O'Gorman sends a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggesting ideas for improving her beloved iPod Nano, including adding onscreen lyrics so people can sing along. She gets back a letter from Apple's legal counsel stating that the company doesn't accept unsolicited ideas and telling her not to send in any more suggestions.

Might I suggest that, while this may have made her feel badly, there's a simple reason why Apple sent her the letter: Next year, after Apple introduces, say, the sing-along iPod, it doesn't want everybody to be reading the story of how it stole the idea from now-ten-year-old Shea O'Gorman and she's suing them.

Seriously, in our litigious society, does Apple have any choice about not accepting unsolicited ideas from people?


Anonymous said...

Apple's desire to protect itself with a form letter is understandable; from a pr/customer relations point of view, if it was clear from the letter that she was a kid, they could have figured out a kid friendly version of the same basic thing and met their legal needs.

MikeT said...

She could probably get something for the idea if they implemented it with the way the patent system works today.

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