Apple is due back in court on April 12 to determine whether it can force Mac rumour Web sites to reveal their sources in the light of California's anti-SLAPP statute.

The statute is intended to protect against lawsuits brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of constitutionally protected rights of petition and free speech, writes Information Week.

Attorney Terry Gross intends to offer two lines of defence on behalf of his client, Think Secret's Nicolas Ciarelli. The first is a First Amendment argument that states that journalists can't be held liable for reporting the news if they obtain information lawfully.

The second questions whether news about Apple's products really reveals trade secrets. Trade secrets are generally defined as information that derives economic value from not being known and has been subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy, explains Information Week.

Gross says: "Apple can't even prove trade-secret misappropriate occurred here, because there's no commercial advantage in this information just a few days before issuing a press release. No competitor is going to be able to take this information and use it to their advantage. And Apple makes no claim that any competitor did do that."

Leaks continue

Even if Apple does remain victorious, the effectiveness of Apple's recent win in California's Santa Clara County Superior Court that affirmed its right to force the publisher to disclose confidential sources, is called into question by Information Week which states: "The leaks appear to be continuing."

Information Week points to rumours that Apple will be introducing a two-button mouse, and Apple's interest in buying HipSolve media for $3.6 million – both rumours came to light in the days following Apple's win.

In the beginning

But does it matter if the leaks get out? The New York Times recalls the case of Paul Freiberger, an InfoWorld reporter who was preparing to run a story on two secret projects he had uncovered at Apple in 1981. After being shouted at by Steve Jobs, who insisted that if he revealed the details it would offer a crucial advantage to the computer makers rivals, he held back.

In the end the paper got its scoop though, and revealed details of Lisa and the Macintosh, and Apple still managed to trounce its competitors, writes New York Times John Markoff.

Over the years Jobs has become a "master of orchestrating new product buzz," notes the report. It suggests that Apple's decision to go after operators of Internet fan sites for revealing trade secrets could actually "strengthen Mr Jobs' marketing magic by deepening the secrecy – and thus the buzz – he has always tried to maintain around the company's future products".

Regis McKenna, a Silicon Valley marketing executive who began working with Jobs shortly after Apple was founded said: "He's a master at creating the mystique. His problem is how to continue to innovate out of the limelight."