An Apple lawyer has told Silicon Valley gossip site Valleywag that it "crossed the line" after the site started a scavenger hunt for proof of the rumoured upcoming Apple tablet device.
Valleywag offered up to $100,000 for photographs or videos of any forthcoming tablet computer.
Apple has so far remained silent on media speculation that it plans to release a tablet computer. However, Valleywag claims the cease and desist letter offers the most concrete evidence yet of the device's existence.
"While Apple values and appreciates vibrant public commentary about its products, we believe you and your company crossed the line by offering a bounty for the theft of Apple's trade secrets. Such an offer is illegal and Apple insists that you immediately discontinue the Scavenger Hunt," said the letter from Apple's law firm, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.
The letter also referred to "an unannounced and highly confidential Apple product."
In response, Valleywag claimed the letter offers proof of the existence of the tablet, and has awarded the law firm a consolation prize: A $25 gift voucher for Microsoft's Zune Marketplace, a DVD of 'Legally Blonde 2' and "a fabulous set of steak knives".
Valleywag is still offering prizes for information about the tablet and has advised would-be participants to use anonymous email addresses.
Valleywag said: "The main reason we launched our scavenger hunt in the first place was that for all the talk and talk and talk about the impending last week's Wall Street Journal reporting that Apple planned to unveil a 'multimedia tablet device' sometime this month and then start selling them in March. But even this was attributed to 'people briefed by the company'. While there was some speculation that Apple itself had leaked the story, that was only speculation — like every other word and photo and video that's been created about the so-called 'iSlate'.", there has not been one iota of proof that the thing actually exists. The closest thing we know of as a confirmation from Apple was