Apple CEO Steve Jobs asked technology blog “” to return a secret iPhone prototype that Apple says was stolen after a company engineer lost it in a bar, reports “Bloomberg News” (

According to court documents released May 14, the lost iPhone is being investigated as a possible trade secret theft, according to California state court documents made public after media organizations including “Bloomberg News” asked they be unsealed. Apple reported the device stolen last month. Apple that called police to report the phone was stolen, which set the investigation in motion.

An Apple lawyer said publicity about the “invaluable” prototype was “immensely damaging to Apple” because it would hinder iPhone sales, according to an April 23 affidavit by Detective Matthew Broad of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

“I want to get this phone back to you ASAP and I want to not hurt your sales when the products themselves deserve love,” “Gizmodo” editor Brian Lam said in an e-mail to Jobs. “But I have to get this story of the missing prototype out and how it was returned to Apple with some acknowledgement it is Apple’s.”

“Bloomberg” says he was writing in response to Jobs, who contacted “Gizmodo” on about April 19 seeking the return of the prototype after the blog dissected it and posted pictures detailing its features. Lam said he would return the phone if Apple provided him with confirmation that it belonged to the company, according to Broad’s unsealed affidavit.

“Gizmodo” said it purchased the phone for US$5,000 after it was found at a bar in the San Francisco suburb of Redwood City. The phone was lost on March 25 by Apple engineer Gray Powell, according to the affidavit.

But wait, there’s more. “CNET” ( reports that San Mateo County Court unsealed the wrong documents in the iPhone prototype case. An attorney representing several media outlets had petitioned the court to release the search warrant connected to blogger Jason Chen and the seizure of his home computers and other technology.

Instead, court authorities released the search warrant connected to suspect Brian Hogan and not the document related to Chen, says “CNET.” In this additional document, blogger Jason Chen is now identified as a “suspect” in this case, and that investigators had probable cause to search his home for more evidence about how he came to possess the iPhone prototype.

But wait, there’s more. “Wired” ( says it was a tip from Hogan’s roommate that led the police to the missing phone. The roommate purportedly said Hogan told her he received a total of $8,500 for the phone, “but did not indicate if all of the money came from Gizmodo or other sources as well,” notes “Wired.” The roommate also told police Gizmodo promised Hogan a bonus if and when Apple officially announced the product.