Forget about this phone, it's all about IP
I posted this comment on TechCrunch earlier, though I think it's more appropriate in this thread. As some of the first commenters have said, it's not just "any" phone that is at stake here.
I think everyone should forget about the phone and concentrate on the bigger picture of intellectual property. In a few of the early [TechCrunch] posts on this story, people quoted the IP parts of the California laws (not sure if it was penal code or civil code), but nobody caught on.
Imagine what happens if IP is no longer protected, and every hacker and every employee is out to make a buck off whatever they can grab from companies. Less investment into big things, just tiny incremental improvements, everything bland, looking the same and having the same uninnovative tech. KIRF and worse, decent copycats, coming from China before product launch. In that environment, R&D investment doesn’t make sense because you can’t get any market lead and thus no decent ROI. And don’t forget that flaghip products are sure to affect company revenue and thus millions of shareholders [you'll excuse me for exaggerating slightly].
I’m not defending Apple’s policies, nor their business model, but I can totally see how businesses and the state have an interest in protecting IP and asserting the force of IP law to protect investments, markets, emplyoment, and tax revenue. You’d hope they protect IP in a way that nabs the wrong-doer and doesn’t violate anyone’s constitutional rights, but then again, business interests and government work rarely meet that ideal.
All these industry websites (Giz, Engadget, Techcrunch, The Register) are treading a fine line every time they choose to release stolen info about products and strategy [actually, I don't think El Reg is as bad as the others in this regard]. I would much rather see insightful opinions about tech and society, such as the future of publishing, gaming, social networks, etc… [which they sometimes publish, but enough of the next phone articles already, who even reads those?]
[Welcome because it's my first comment to The Register, even though I first posted it elsewhere.]