Michael Spillner of the Silicon Valley, Calif., law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe said in a letter that the Valleywag Apple Tablet Scavenger Hunt amounts to the site 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, which was posted Thursday by Valleywag. The letter was addressed to Gabriel Snyder, editor-in-chief of Valleywag, and to parent company Gawker Media.
Valleywag launched the contest Wednesday, offering $10,000 for "bona fide" pictures of the device, $20,000 for video, $50,000 for pictures or video of Apple CEO Steve Jobs holding the tablet, and $100,000 "to let us play with one for an hour."
Apple has never confirmed plans to release a tablet computer, yet, numerous media reports over the last few weeks anticipate an unveiling at a scheduled San Francisco news conference Jan. 27.
Whether Spillner's letter is evidence that the tablet exists is a matter of speculation. The company could be going after Valleywag as a warning to other sites that may be considering offers to buy information on Apple's unannounced products.
If the Valleywag contest is not stopped, then Apple said it "reserves the right to seek any and all remedies" against Snyder, Gawker Media, and anyone who provides information on Apple trade secrets as a result of the offer.
Snyder said in a posting that Valleywag is still offering prizes for proof that the Apple tablet exists. However, Snyder advised would-be contestants "to stay within the bounds of the law" and to use anonymous email addresses.
"We can't tell Apple who you are if we don't know who you are," Snyder said.