Published April 30, 2010
The world on Thursday finally discovered the identity of the bar patron who scooped up the lost Apple iPhone prototype from a Silicon Valley beer garden, thus setting off a chain of events that has taken us far afield from the technology world, into the murky waters of journalistic ethics and police raids.
Wired.com first identified the individual as Brian Hogan, a 21-year-old who lives in Redwood City, California. But it wasn’t long before an e-mail from Hogan’s lawyer was shooting into the in-boxes of journalists everywhere, defending him as “kind of young man that any parent would be proud to have as their son.”
“He regrets his mistake in not doing more to return the phone,” said the e-mail from his lawyer, Jeffrey Bornstein.
The iPhone in question, an apparent prototype of Apple’s not-yet-released fourth-generation model, was accidentally left in the bar by a young Apple engineer. The device was eventually sold to gadget site Gizmodo for $5,000, which splashed it all over the Internet and caused a serious ruckus. Apple asked for the device back and took the case to police.
Authorities then raided the home of one of Gizmodo’s editors and seized his computers, trying to determine whether a felony theft had occurred. Lawyers were called, shield laws were debated, and the issue appears nowhere near resolved.
And what about Hogan, who started the whole sordid tale spinning? According to his lawyer, Hogan was handed the iPhone by someone else who found it on a bar stool. He then asked those around him if it was theirs, and took it home when nobody claimed ownership.
The money that Hogan later pocketed in exchange for the phone was somewhat of a misunderstanding, according to Bornstein.
“Even though he did obtain some compensation from Gizmodo, Brian thought that it was so that they could review the phone. Brian believed and Gizmodo emphasized to him that there was nothing wrong in sharing the phone with the tech press.”
As for Hogan himself, his lawyer describes him thusly:
“Brian has been working part time at a Church run community center where he was teaching swimming to kids age 3 to 10. He also has taught English in China to college students and volunteered at a Chinese orphanage in 2009 while enrolled in a study abroad program through college. In that same year, Brian volunteered in Vietnam to plant a friendship garden.
He also volunteers to assist his aunt and sister with fund-raising for their work to provide medical care to orphans in Kenya.”